The commercial trucking industry moves goods across the nation, playing an important role in the nation’s commerce system. However, the prevalence of alcohol abuse among commercial truck drivers is an ongoing issue.
While alcohol abuse threatens the safety of the truck drivers who drink and drive, it also threatens that of everyone else on the roadway.
How alcohol impacts driving ability
Alcohol impairs a driver’s cognitive and motor skills, leading to impaired judgment and reduced reaction times. This impairment dramatically increases the risk of accidents on the road. Alcohol consumption can also impact coordination, which is essential for operating large and heavy vehicles.
When under the influence of alcohol, truckers also become more prone to erratic behavior, such as aggressive driving or reckless maneuvers. Alcohol abuse may, too, lead to poor sleep quality and disrupted sleep patterns, contributing to driver fatigue. Fatigue is a significant risk factor for wrecks in the trucking industry.
How to prevent alcohol abuse in trucking
Strict regulations and testing procedures have taken shape in recent years to help address the issue of alcohol abuse in commercial trucking. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration now mandates alcohol testing for commercial truck drivers. Drivers are subject to random alcohol testing, pre-employment testing, post-accident testing and reasonable suspicion testing.
Truck drivers who have an alcohol concentration above the legal limit face severe consequences. They may have their commercial driver’s licenses suspended, or they may face job loss. Moreover, an alcohol-related offense can have long-term repercussions on a driver’s career.
According to a series of recent studies, about 19% of professional truck drivers report binge drinking, while more than 9% report drinking daily. Continuous efforts to combat alcohol abuse among commercial truckers are necessary to maintain the safety and integrity of the industry.