News / Marijuana Legalization and Big-Rig Crashes

Marijuana Legalization and Big-Rig Crashes

25 August 2022 - by - in Industry News
marijuana legalization and big-rig crashes

truck going into the sunset

Here’s a sentence you probably weren’t expecting to see today: legalizing marijuana can help lower the number of truck accidents. That’s right, legalizing marijuana can improve the safety of truck drivers. If that comes as a surprise to you, it shouldn’t! There is research to back this claim up. 

The Trucking Industry is Harsh on Marijuana

Currently, the trucking industry is harsh on marijuana, more so than most other major industries. Even though two-thirds of Americans believe legal marijuana should be the norm, the American trucking industry isn’t matching that public opinion. In fact, the trucking industry is taking the opposite approach. In 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched the drug and alcohol clearinghouse, which lists all commercial drivers who have failed a drug or alcohol test. Drivers are able to clear their names if they follow a return-to-duty process. The goal of the clearinghouse is to ensure truck drivers don’t jump from job to job after failing a drug and alcohol test. 

There is no research that shows the implementation of the clearing house has led to safer roadways. However, it has removed plenty of drivers. From January 2020 to April 2022, nearly 124,000 drivers have been fired from their jobs due to failed drug tests. Nearly 31,000 drivers have followed the return-to-duty procedures and are back on the road. While some were let go because of highly addictive and harmful drugs such as opioids, amphetamines, and methamphetamine, more than 74,000 drivers were removed because they tested positive for marijuana. 

Is it Smart to Kick Out Drivers For Marijuana?

A new study has found that booting out drivers for testing positive for marijuana isn’t all that wise. Researchers from the University of Tennessee, the University of Arkansas, and Iowa State University found that recreational marijuana legalization can actually reduce heavy truck accidents by 11%. It’s important to note that this study hasn’t undergone peer review just yet. It’s also important to note that we don’t know if legalization has a direct impact on trucking accidents. 

With that in mind, there is some evidence that legalization doesn’t necessarily increase accidents, as many think. The researchers looked at truck crash statistics from 2005-2019 in eight states with legal, recreational marijuana. Six states saw decreases in crashes while two states saw increases. Overall, crashes decreased by 11%. 

How Does a Zero-Tolerance Marijuana Policy Affect the Trucking Industry?

Even though there is still a federal ban on marijuana, it is legal for medical use in 37 states and is fully legal in 19. However, drivers who live in states where cannabis is legal are still not allowed to use the substance. Cannabidiol (CBD), is federally legal. However, CBD can often show up as THC on drug tests so most drivers tend to avoid using it even if there are medical benefits. Yet, truck drivers are allowed to get behind the wheel of a big rig with a blood alcohol level of 0.04%. 

Despite the fact the majority of Americans think marijuana should be legal, the federal government and the trucking industry have doubled down on kicking out truck drivers who use marijuana. It’s hard not to feel like the federal government could focus on more pressing issues. Tackling the country’s crumbling infrastructure or improving training would be far more effective in limiting crashes. According to a Department of Transportation study, illegal drugs contributed to 2% of all accidents between an 18-wheeler and a passenger car. Break problems accounted for 29%, speeding 23%, unfamiliarity with roadways 22%, and roadway issues 20%. 

Do You Need Help With Your Logistics?

Dealing with the trucking industry can be difficult for business owners and managers. That’s why our team at Trifecta Transportation is here to help. We will handle your logistics needs so you don’t have to worry about them. We will ensure all of your time-critical logistics are taken care of. We can also provide a Freight shipping estimate so you know how our services can fit into your budget. Reach out today to find out what it is we can do for you!