-- Randy Dotinga
TUESDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Studies of substance abuse
by truckers show varying results, but at least some drivers turn to
alcohol or illicit drugs while behind the wheel, a new review
Younger, less well-paid truckers were at higher risk for
substance abuse on the job, the study found.
"The results of this review are a cause for concern, not only for truck drivers using psychoactive substances, but also for the general public," Allard van der Beek, of the Institute for Health and Care Research at VU University in Amsterdam, wrote in a commentary on the study.
The new review, led by Edmarlon Girotto, of the State University
of Londrina, in Londrina, Brazil, looked at data from 36 studies
conducted in a number of countries worldwide.
Most of the studies took place in large countries such as
Australia, the United States and Brazil; 23 relied on surveys of
drivers instead of the testing of their biological samples.
"[Drugs and alcohol] have been proved to impair driving and cause a greater risk of traffic accidents," Girotto's team wrote in the Oct. 17 issue of the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. "Therefore, gas stations, trucker stops and companies that employ these professionals must be more closely observed regarding the sale and consumption of these substances."
Together, the studies show that truckers most frequently use
alcohol, amphetamines (speed), marijuana and cocaine. But the
results of the studies varied widely between studies, with drinking
on the job ranging from 0.1 percent of truckers to 91 percent,
amphetamine use from 0.2 percent to 82.5 percent, marijuana use
from 0.2 percent to 30 percent and cocaine use from 0.1 percent to
The percentages were lower when studies relied on biological
samples instead of questionnaires, but the researchers said the
samples only revealed recent use of alcohol and illicit substances
-- not whether a trucker had ever used these substances while on
Twelve studies tried to figure out key factors increasing the
likelihood of truckers using drugs on the job. The groups that
appeared most likely to do so included younger truckers, those who
go on longer trips, those who drive more at night, those who drink
alcohol, those who get fewer hours of rest, and those who were paid
below union-recommended rates or were paid based on their job
Van der Beek said alcohol and marijuana make it harder for
truckers to react quickly, and amphetamines can spell trouble for
their health in the long term.
There's more on impaired driving at the
Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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