12/09/2014 09:53 EST | Updated 02/08/2015 05:59 EST

Drivers high on drugs include commercial truck drivers, say northern B.C. RCMP

An increasing number of drivers in northern B.C. are being convicted of driving under the influence of drugs, say police — even commercial truck drivers.

"It was an eye opener for us when you start stopping commercial vehicles and find out they're impaired by drugs, and they're some of the biggest units we have on the highway out there," RCMP Staff Sgt. Pat McTiernan told Daybreak North's Russell Bowers.

McTiernan said the trend isn't new, but the increase in convictions is linked to new technology and training that allows police to detect drugs.

"Up until now, when a driver stopped and he was shown the indicia of impairment, if it was drugs or alcohol, if he showed very little odour of liquor ... we didn't have any system in place. We have that now," he said.

McTiernan said most of the incidents police see are what he calls the "main drugs" — marijuana and cocaine.

Less commonly drivers are high on ecstasy or heroine, he said, and on some occasions impairment has been linked to prescription drugs.

McTiernan said the latest numbers underline the need for police to prioritize awareness around getting high and getting behind the wheel.

"I think we're looking at society saying that impaired by alcohol is not socially acceptable, but if you have these social drugs off to the side … they become more of a problem."

To hear more about the RCMP's counter attack on high drivers, click on the audio clip labelled: RCMP says more drivers getting high and driving in Northern B.C.