Amphetamine, cocaine and cannabinoids use among truck drivers on the roads in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Forensic Sci Int. 2012 Feb 10;215(1-3):25-7. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2011.03.032. Epub 2011 Apr 20.


Drugs are important risk factors for traffic accidents. In Brazil, truck drivers report using amphetamines to maintain their extensive work schedule and stay awake. These drugs can be obtained without prescription easily on Brazilian roads. The use of these stimulants can result in health problems and can be associated with traffic accidents. There are Brazilian studies that show that drivers use drugs. However, these studies are questionnaire-based and do not always reflect real-life situations. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the prevalence of drug use by truck drivers on the roads of Sao Paulo State, Brazil, during 2009. Drivers of large trucks were randomly stopped by police officers on the interstate roads during morning hours. After being informed of the goals of the study, the drivers gave written informed consent before providing a urine sample. In addition, a questionnaire concerning sociodemographic characteristics and health information was administered. Urine samples were screened for amphetamines, cocaine, and cannabinoids by immunoassay and the confirmation was performed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Of the 488 drivers stopped, 456 (93.4%) provided urine samples, and 9.3% of them (n=42) tested positive for drugs. Amphetamines were the most commonly found (n=26) drug, representing 61.9% of the positive samples. Ten cases tested positive for cocaine (23.8%), and five for cannabinoids (11.9%). All drivers were male with a mean age of 40 ± 10.8 years, and 29.3% of them reported some health problem (diabetes, high blood pressure and/or stress). A high incidence of truck drivers who tested positive for drug use was found, among other reported health problems. Thus, there is an evident need to promote a healthier lifestyle among professional drivers and a need for preventive measures aimed at controlling the use of drugs by truck drivers in Brazil.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amphetamines / urine*
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Cannabinoids / urine*
  • Cocaine / urine*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Forensic Toxicology
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Motor Vehicles
  • Narcotics / urine
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Substance Abuse Detection
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Amphetamines
  • Cannabinoids
  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine