Chemical Substance Effects on Driving on Performance: Stimulants, Hypnotics, and Nutritional Aids

Policy makers for commercial transportation equipment operators (particularly for truck and bus/motor coach operators) and health and safety advocates throughout the industry are not well informed about the accumulating body of research results on the human performance effects of the numerous chemical substances to which drivers have access. Little is known about the effects ingested chemical substances have on drivers' level of alertness, onset of fatigue, tendency toward errors and mistakes, accidents, etc. as well as what repeated self-administration of chemicals and drugs does to short and long term health. Less is known about the synergistic effects of ingesting multiple chemical compounds such as the effects of taking self-administered antihistamines interacting with dietary measures, etc. Commercial drivers can and do purchase and use numerous chemical substances to manage levels of alertness and driving performance. These substances may include but not be limited to stimulant compounds such as caffeine in various forms, diet pills, and health foods/nutritional aids; athletic boosters such as ephedrine; legal and illegal stimulant drugs; a variety of prescription drugs; as well as hypnotic compounds such as sleeping pills; sedating/non-sedating antihistamines; and other sleep-inducing compounds. This synthesis would provide a state of the practice literature review, documenting what the health and performance issues are concerning truck and bus operators. It would review and report on available scientific research about the effects that ingestion chemical compounds have on truck and bus operators' levels of alertness and performance. The synthesis could/would also address both the safety and ethical issues of permitting or "prescribing" commercial drivers' use of a variety of chemical substances. Should the use of so-called non-sedating antihistamines, sleeping pills, the hormone melatonin, various energy drinks containing stimulant substances, etc. be permitted? What are the roles of the safety officer, medical personnel, and/or highway safety enforcement personnel in this issue? The synthesis audience would include : the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), TRB Truck and Bus Safety Committee (ANB 70), the commercial truck and bus/motor coach community, corporate officials, safety and health advocates, risk managers, etc.; commercial driver training enthusiasts, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration (CVSA and allied truck and bus inspection teams, police enforcement community, etc; trucking trade industry and advocacy groups, i.e. ATA, NPTC, OOIDA, etc.; and commercial transportation research community, safety and health research specialties. The primary sources of information will be a comprehensive literature and surveys of selected entities. Agencies to be surveyed would be those in transportation arenas who are responsible for or are involved in setting standards, regulations research agendas, etc. These include but are not limited to: state DOTs; health, safety, and transportation operator groups for all modes of commercial transportation in the US;FMCA; NIOSH and including both the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and NIOSH research centers in West Virginia and Cincinnati; US military sources involved the use of drugs and in accomplishing performance research, and/or establishing drug use policy during military operations such as USAAR, USARIEM, WRAIR, NHRS, NAMRL, USAF-HED, etc.. To the extent possible, relevant information from agencies in other countries such as Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany should also be summarized.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project MC-19

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Department of Transportation

    Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC    20590

    Commercial Truck and Bus Safety Synthesis Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Vlasak, Donna

  • Start Date: 20090625
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 22775

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01546051
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project MC-19
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 2 2014 1:01AM