The nation’s top trucking research group plans to update previous studies on the effects of legalized marijuana and other drugs on truck safety along with integrating 18- to 20-year-old drivers into the industry.

Those initiatives were among the top research priorities approved by the American Transportation Research Institute for 2021, ATRI announced Tuesday. ATRI’s research priorities in 2020 included nonnuclear verdicts, safety metrics, owner-operators and vehicle-miles-traveled user fees.

“As more states move to decriminalize marijuana and other drugs, this study would update ATRI’s 2019 report by examining roadway safety and workforce impacts in those states changing their controlled substance laws,” ATRI stated.

As a result of the 2019 report, ATRI recommended increasing the amount of data collected on the frequency and impacts of marijuana-impaired driving; educating the public on the risks of impaired driving; better equipping law enforcement and the court system to prosecute impaired drivers; and using tax revenue generated from marijuana sales to fund those activities.

ATRI will also look at how to best integrate 18- to 20-year-old drivers into the trucking industry. “This research will utilize a case-study approach to document best practices for recruiting, training and retaining younger individuals into trucking careers,” the group stated. In 2019, ATRI prioritized research quantifying the safety performance of drivers ages 18 to 20 who are legally allowed to drive in intrastate operations versus experienced interstate commercial drivers.

ATRI’s research on drivers currently too young to obtain a commercial interstate driver’s license follows mounting pressure from lawmakers and the industry to make interstate driving legal for those ages 18 to 20.

Two research initiatives on the effects of electric truck deployment is also among ATRI’s 2021 priorities given the “heightened awareness” on electrifying the industry, the group stated.

“Charging Infrastructure Considerations for Electric Trucks” will examine power demand scenarios and availability of grid connectivity and vehicle charging requirements. “This research will be a trucking industry-focused assessment that identifies the electrical infrastructure issues associated with deploying electric trucks,” according to ATRI.

“Understanding the Environmental Impacts of Zero Emission Trucks” will compare environmental impacts of the full lifecycle of electric versus diesel Class 8 trucks, including manufacturing, operations and disposal.

ATRI also plans to quantify the effects of driver-facing cameras on fleets and drivers, focusing on safety, litigation, and workforce impacts.

Related articles:

Texas tops list for truck driver drug/alcohol violations
Biden makes trucks part of electric vehicle charging-station plan
FMCSA proposes under-21 driver pilot program

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