• Issue 116 • May 2017

Trucker Digest • Для Тех, Кто За Рулем • Established in 2007

Trucking industry worrying about how to deal with high drivers.

By www.torontosun.com russian

The report shows carnage on the roads in two states where the recreational use of marijuana is now legal — Washington and Colorado — has doubled and tripled among drivers who tested positive for marijuana.

The image of a toked-up Cheech or Chong rolling down the highway hauling an 18-wheeler loaded with a cargo of toxic chemicals or flammable liquids has the trucking industry bracing for the worst.

It is just one leg of a multi-legged beast the Trudeau Liberals have created by rushing into the legalization of marijuana in order to get elected and appear hip to their millennial fan base. Thinking it through properly, however, and ticking off the multitude of boxes necessary to protect the public, was obviously not a major part of the process.

While potheads were celebrating the annual 4/20 homage to marijuana on Thursday, publicly smoking their reefers and lauding the Liberals' progressiveness, the clear-minded in the trucking business were contemplating how to handle a potential time bomb of buzzed drivers behind the wheel of heavily-laden transport trucks.

DorogaRoad Magazine. Current Issue
DorogaRoad Magazine. Issue 116 • May 2017 cover.

It is no small matter. According to Statistics Canada, there are almost 500,000 big rigs registered in Canada, and 227,000 truck drivers, making it one of the top occupations in the country.

And these numbers do not include the thousands of rigs coming into Canada on a daily basis from the United States.

A presentation in February to trucking industry insiders commissioned by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the federal civil service's largest union, painted a very troubling portrait.

The 44-page report shows carnage on the roads in two states where the recreational use of marijuana is now legal — Washington and Colorado — has doubled and tripled among drivers who tested positive for marijuana.

In Washington, for example, fatal crashes linked to marijuana in the drivers' blood system now represents 17% of road deaths in that state, while in Colorado the percentage tripled to 12.1% since pot legalization came in 2014.

The report, supplied to the Sun by a field safety inspector for a major trucking company in Canada, also cited a State Farm survey showing the presence of marijuana in drivers killed in Canadian road crashes has already increased from 13% to 20%.

"My industry's concerns regarding (legalization) and the effects of a 'stoned' truck driver or heavy-equipment operator should also be a great concern to the motoring public," the inspector wrote in an email.

"We in the industry have enough other issues to deal with and, with no viable roadside device to determine marijuana intoxication, we're all going to be in a lot of trouble."

The trucking industry, which depends on its drivers being alert, is also hampered by the fact there is no Canadian law permitting the mandatory drug and alcohol testing of its employees.

But nothing in the legislation recently tabled in the Commons spoke directly to the trucking industry's recommendations that hardline enforcement policy be developed, and that Canada adopt the stance of the United States where legislated alcohol and drug testing in the federally-regulated transportation industry has been in place for more than 20 years.

When the medical use of marijuana was formally legalized, Health Canada was specific in its warnings about toking up and getting behind the wheel of any vehicle, let alone an 18-wheeler.

"It is well known that exposure (to cannabis) impairs psychomotor performance," it said. "Patients must be warned not to drive after smoking or eating cannabis."

According the same State Farm report showing road deaths with marijuana involved increasing by 7%, 40% of Canadians who admit driving under the influence of marijuana nonetheless claim it had no impact on their ability to drive.