In recent years, there has been a concerning rise in the use of marijuana among professional truck drivers in California and the nation. This trend raises significant safety and regulatory concerns within the trucking industry.
It also increases dangers for everyone who shares the road with these drivers.
What is causing the uptick
Several states legalized recreational and medicinal marijuana, leading to a perception among some drivers that it is now acceptable to use cannabis while on the road. However, federal regulations still classify marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance, making its use illegal for truck drivers under federal law.
Truck drivers often form close-knit communities due to the nature of their work. Some drivers may face pressure from their peers to use marijuana, and this peer pressure can lead to increased usage among drivers.
The life of a professional truck driver is also demanding and stressful. Long hours on the road, tight delivery schedules and the pressures of meeting industry expectations take a toll on mental health. Some drivers turn to marijuana as a way to alleviate stress and anxiety, which can lead to regular use.
Why the increase is concerning
Impaired driving is the most significant concern associated with marijuana use among truck drivers. Marijuana impairs a driver’s cognitive and motor skills, making it dangerous to operate a commercial vehicle while under the influence. Impaired driving often leads to accidents, injuries and even fatalities. Commercial vehicles are also significantly larger and more powerful than passenger cars, and accidents involving them are often devastating.
Transport Topics reports that almost 41,000 American truck drivers tested positive for marijuana in 2022. This was a 32% uptick from the year prior, and it is important that truckers understand the negative consequences of driving while under the influence of marijuana.