Police alarmed by extent of the truckie ‘drug culture’

Published: April 28, 2015
Grey nomads intimidated by truckies who may be takinng drugs and driving erraticcally

Many grey nomads find sharing often narrow roads with heavy trucks to be a frightening experience.

While most travellers are well aware that hard-working truckies are on tight schedules and have an important job to do, they can still be intimidated by occasional incidents of aggressive driving or tailgating.

This is what makes the recent revelation that 156 truckies tested positive for drugs when stopped by Victorian police last year so frightening.  Around one in 14 of those drivers tested for drugs returned a positive reading. It can only be assumed that the percentage would be similar among truckies driving in other states and territories.

Victoria Police said ‘ratbag drivers’ in charge of driving 60-tonne ‘weapons’ were treating other motorists as potential roadkill.

Among the drugs of choice for truckies are speed, ice and marijuana.

Detective Inspector Bernie Rankin, head of Victoria Police’s transport investigations unit, told the Herald Sun newspaper that, while most truckies would not ­contemplate driving high on drugs, it was the rogue element which needed to be booted from the industry.

“Unfortunately they are tainted by the ratbags in the transport industry who have got absolutely no regard for road safety, other road users, themselves or their families,” he said. “Selfishness is what drives them.”

The Herald Sun reports that police recently admitted that truckies were driving for more than 16 hours a day and some were using ice and speed to stay awake. Heavy-vehicle drivers are supposed to drive for a maximum of 12 hours a day.

Police have received funding to ‘significantly’ ramp up testing of drugs, which was a worsening problem among all drivers.

  • Are you surprised by the extent of the apparent drug culture among some truckies? Have you experienced erratic driving from drivers of heavy vehicles? Comment below.
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Bob McKerrow
7 years ago

What the article did not mention is that of the 156 drivers tested, all those drivers where tested after being put through certain indicators. Only 14 of those tested positive. If this Indicator Testing was done with car drivers I believe the result would be higher. I drive long haul and see more evidence of cars driving erratically than I do trucks. Most Line Haul drive around 5,000 kilometres per week. Victorian Police have a dedicated squad just to test trucks for a large range of violations. The actual incidence of detection per kilometres driven is way, way below the incidence of violation per kilometres driven by car drivers. Once again the media failing to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

7 years ago
Reply to  Bob McKerrow

Only 14 out of 156 MC drivers found to have illegal drugs in their systems is 14 too many. It should be one strike and good night licence.
These people are driving massive vehicles and should not drive with drugs in their systems or erratically anytime. If we have to pay more for our goods to be transported so be it but get the cowboys off our roads.
according to an oversize pilot I spoke to in Townsville, most of the drivers he travelled with were on some form of drug; he might have been spinning bull but he was telling the tale not the media.

7 years ago
Reply to  Bob McKerrow

I think you need to read the article. My understanding is that the positive tests results were 156 last year, which is an average of 1 for every 14 tests carried out. That’s frightening! I don’t care how one-eyed you look at it, you can’t explain it away by saying it is biased commentary. Zero tolerance must be applied to professional drivers of heavy vehicles.

5 years ago
Reply to  Bob McKerrow

Another way of looking at this is that the Police had a suspicion the driver was impaired by their actions. That’s an indication of how much bad driving REALLY is out there. Imagine if those bad drivers had drugs as well !

7 years ago

drugs have long been part of the truck driving business
so wat have the cops been doing in all that time
could some have been taking b…..
some drivers had a license in each state they drove and there bosses new wat the go was
I mean big truck mobs and one bloke the pollys dance around all the time on tv etc
but there must be the average truckie that just wants to do his job

I also agree there is a lot of car drivers out there high as kites etc

7 years ago

I’m in the road constantly in my big Winnie and I listen on Channel 40. The vast majority of truckers do the right thing. If you’re considerate to them, most will return the courtesy. You listen to them chatting on the UHF and they are just ordinary blokes doing their job and having a quick yarn as they pass someone they know. I’ve seen (and heard) the ratbag drivers as well. Using their size to intimidate and hurling every expletive under the sun, on the CB, at other truckies who get in their way or make a mistake. You just know they’re high in something. I followed a road train for a while across the Naularbor (that I’d let go past me – not a word on the CB or a ‘thank you’ flash with his indicators, when I did). He then went roaring off at about 120km/h snaking along and constantly losing his back-end into the dirt. Unfortunately, all the good truckies get tarred with the same brush as people like this bozo. I say get these cowboys off the road, so the honest ones can get their jobs.

Faye Hunt
7 years ago

Yes and there was the truckie who was responsible for 6 deaths a few years ago. 4 from one family and 2 sisters from another! Says it all, who is the cowboys!!

Andy & Lois Aitchison
7 years ago

The wife and I have been travelling with a big off road van for years, we have been to the tip of the Cape and most of the outback roads. We run a UHF on 40 (yes you might learn some new words) and we run $800 mirrors and talk to truckies before they come up behind us, and we talk them through. From some of the van towing behavour we have seen I am sure the first time the driver is aware of the truck is when it is beside his window. They are guys doing a tiring job on a tight schedule. We try to make their lives easier and have never had an issue with any of them. I am sure some of them take No-Doze or similar is that any different to tea or coffee??

Andy & Lois Aitchison
7 years ago

Further on to our comment, I just read the article again and it is the usual media beat up, i56 drivers returned a positive test, of those 1 in 14 tested positive ie 11 of the 156 tested positive, there is no mention of the words illegal drugs anywhere, I take lots of drugs daily for a heart condition. So what? No I am not a truck driver but I have a truck licence.


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