Commercial truck drivers play a critical role in the commerce system in place across Washington and the rest of the nation. Yet, research shows that a growing number of truckers are abusing drugs while on the job. The number of truck drivers using marijuana and other substances behind the wheel has risen rapidly in recent months. This is true even though the use of any such substance may have a dramatic impact on a truck driver’s driving ability.
According to ERS Check, positive drug tests rose 13% among the nation’s commercial truck drivers between January of 2021 and August of 2021 when compared against the same period the year prior.
Truckers and drug use
In early 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration began using a Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse to track truckers who use drugs or alcohol on the job and hold them accountable for their actions. Clearinghouse data shows that there were 18,252 marijuana-related drug infractions among commercial truck drivers between January and August of 2020. There were 21,438 such infractions during the same span in 2021.
Cocaine was the second-most-abused drug among commercial truckers, and there was an increase there, too. During the first eight months of 2020, there were 5,233 truckers who received infractions involving cocaine. During the first eight months of 2021, there were 5,913 such infractions.
Truckers and prohibited driving status
As of the end of August in 2021, there were 87,438 American truck drivers who had at least one drug infraction logged in the clearinghouse. Of those 87,438 truckers with drug infractions, only 17,501 had completed the return-to-duty process needed to get back behind the wheel.
When truckers abuse drugs and then drive trucks, everything from their judgment to reaction time suffers. This makes them a danger to everyone they encounter.