Commercial van-driving under the influences of substances

A qualitative study of commercial van-driving and work related use of legal and/or illegal substances


This study has four main purposes:

1) To investigate when and with which purpose van-drivers use legal and/or illegal substances as part of the workday and work-related driving.

2) To investigate which social, normative, and material circumstances that enable commercial van driving under the influence of legal and/or illegal substances. And further, how driving under the influence relates e.g. to drowsiness and regulations on driving times, not using seat belts, and speeding.

3) To investigate knowledge and attitudes among the drivers towards work related van-driving under the influence of legal and/or illegal substances.

4) To investigate the drivers’ experiences of critical situations in traffic related to their use of legal and/or illegal substances


In about a third of fatal traffic accident, a commercial vehicle is involved. And in almost 20 percent of the cases in which the police register that a person has been seriously injured in traffic, a commercial vehicle, and often a van, is involved. Recent data from the Danish Road Safety Council suggest that this can be seen in the light of the fact that many van drivers in the past year have been driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while driving a van. In addition, it suggests that the use of prescription drugs and energy drinks may also play a role. However, there is a lack of knowledge about why and in what situations van drivers drive commercial vehicles under the influence of drugs. With this interview-based qualitative study, we aim to generate prevention-relevant, qualitative knowledge about these issues.

The Study

The study is based on 25 qualitative research interviews with van drivers who drive as part of their work life (e.g. craftsmen and couriers) and who have experience in using various types of illegal and legal drugs in connection with occupational driving. We will focus in particular on the significance the broader context of how and when driving under the influence occurs, e.g. the importance of the drivers' experiences of norms and expectations of employers and colleagues, employment conditions and balance between work and leisure. Due to Covid-19 and the uncertainty that the current situation entails, all interviews are conducted online.

The study runs from December 2021 – May 2023.


The study is funded by the Danish Road Safety Council and Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research.


The study is carried out in collaboration with the Danish Road Safety Council.