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What Drugs Do Truckers Use Most Commonly?

By Karnas Law Firm |

Truck drivers have difficult jobs. Often away from their families for months at a time, they can become lonely out on the road with no one to talk to for days. Unsurprisingly, many truckers turn to drugs or alcohol to help them get through their shifts.

Unfortunately, chemical substances can impair a trucker’s ability to drive safely, and innocent motorists suffer horrifying injuries when they collide with these large vehicles. If you were hurt in a crash, please contact our truck accident lawyers in Phoenix to discuss your accident case. An impaired driver might be to blame, in which case we can submit a personal injury claim for compensation.


Alcohol use is widespread in the trucking industry. In a series of interviews, roughly half of truckers admitted to drinking and driving at least once. This is an unacceptably high percentage.

Alcohol has well-known negative effects on a driver’s performance, including impaired vision and hearing, as well as impaired coordination and slowed reflexes. Because alcohol is a depressant, many truckers might fall asleep after drinking too much behind the wheel. They can hit other cars at high speeds.


Laws regarding marijuana are in flux around the country. Although some cities and states are decriminalizing marijuana for recreational use, it is still a drug. Consequently, no one should use marijuana before getting behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, especially a large commercial truck.

Marijuana use is exploding in the trucking industry. According to one story, 60,000 truckers were removed from the roads in 2021 for a positive marijuana test. Trucking companies randomly test truckers, so not all of these people were driving while high. Still, the widespread marijuana use is a cause for concern.


Cocaine use is largely underreported because it doesn’t show up in many urine tests. Instead, a hair follicle test is the ideal way to catch cocaine use, but trucking companies aren’t required to perform them. One study found that cocaine use was even more common than marijuana. Truckers often use cocaine to focus their attention during long hauls.


Amphetamines are stimulants, so many truckers use them to stay awake. Driving for 12 hours or more is monotonous, and it is easy to fall asleep, especially late at night. Some truckers rely on amphetamines to help get them to their destination.


Caffeine is also a popular stimulant. Of course, caffeine is perfectly legal when consumed in coffee, tea, or soda. However, there is always a risk of a “crash” following too much caffeine use. In other words, the trucker is at a greater risk of falling asleep than if he had pulled over and taken a nap. The caffeine fails to fully counteract fatigue; in fact, it makes fatigue worse.

Drug Testing after Accidents

If you were struck by a truck, you might wonder if the driver was high or intoxicated at the time. Federal regulations require testing of truckers after some, but not all, accidents. For example, the trucking company must test its driver following any accident that results in a fatality or where the trucker receives a moving violation citation and someone was hurt or the vehicle was disabled.

Unfortunately, if the trucker doesn’t receive a citation, then no automatic testing is required. Nonetheless, some trucking companies will still test after any accident out of a desire to protect themselves legally. They want to know if the trucker is a danger, so they perform a test even if they don’t report it to the government. Your attorney should request all internal company records which might prove substance abuse.

On the other hand, some trucking companies might refuse to perform even the mandatory tests, out of a desire to cut corners or keep a driver on the road. There is an industry-wide shortage of truck drivers, and federal regulations require that companies pull drivers from duty if they fail a test. Some companies are pressed for bodies, so they might deliberately refuse to fulfill their legal obligations.

Other truckers will be tested by the police. That is why it is critical to call the police after a collision. Let the officer decide whether to ask the trucker for a breath or urine sample.

Proving impairment is essential in many truck accident cases. This is a form of negligence or recklessness that makes the trucker liable for the collision. We can also sue their employer in many situations to recover compensation following an accident.

Were You Injured by an Impaired Trucker?

Karnas Law Firm is dedicated to accident victims’ rights. Please call our firm today to schedule a time to meet to talk about your truck accident. We know how to obtain proof of a trucker’s chemical impairment as part of your claim.