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ATA denounces Brazilian trucker study

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ARLINGTON, Va. (Oct. 30, 2013) — The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has denounced as inaccurate and misleading a study from a Brazilian university that claims a high percentage of commercial truck drivers worldwide drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

The study, "Psychoactive substance use by truck drivers: a systematic review," was conducted at the Universidade Estadual de Londrina, in the Brazilian state of Parana, and published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Researchers obtained their results through a combination of self-reporting and biological testing. Biological tests in the U.S. showed positive alcohol readings of 12.5 percent among the drivers who were tested, according to the study. The world average for positive alcohol readings was 3.6 percent, it said.

Positive biological samples for amphetamines averaged 8.5 percent around the world, with Thailand showing an average of 82.5 percent, the study said.

A total of 367 studies of truckers were performed, of which 36 were actually used in the study—21 self-reporting, 13 biological samples, and two of both, according to the authors.

"In summary, the intake of psychoactive substances by truck drivers is a relatively frequent occurrence, although the prevalence varies according to the place and methodology employed," the authors of the study wrote.

"Furthermore, intake seems to be higher when working conditions are poor, and can have a direct impact on the health of individual truck drivers and society as a whole due to the increase in traffic accidents," they wrote.

In a press release, the ATA urged U.S. media outlets "to stop their inaccurate and sensationalized reporting" of the "so-called" study.

The results of the Brazilian study contrast sharply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) most recent figures on alcohol and drug use among U.S. truckers, the ATA said.

In the FMCSA's most recent figures, according to the ATA, alcohol violations among commercial truckers totaled less than a fifth of 1 percent in 2008, the latest year for which data are available.

As for drug use, the violation rate among commercial truckers was less than 1 percent in 2011, the ATA said. From 2001 to 2011, the number of truck crashes and truck-involved injuries decreased 33 percent, and the number of truck-involved fatalities fell 26 percent, the trade group said.

"These numbers show the strength of our industry's commitment to safe highways and the hard work of law enforcement to root out bad actors that comprise a very small percentage of our industry," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.

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