Photo: Flickr user  Bjørn Bulthuis

Photo: Flickr user Bjørn Bulthuis

A fleet safety manager I interviewed once, talking about the problems with how the federal government doesn't take into account whose fault crashes are when rating motor carriers, told me about a recent incident where someone had committed suicide by leaping off an overpass into the path of one of his trucks.

My first thought was how awful that must have been for the driver. But I admit I didn't think about the fact that he or she might actually develop post traumatic stress disorder.

An article in The Atlantic, "PTSD in the Driver’s Seat," posted on its website this week, points out that PTSD and other mental issues can certainly arise from such an incident -- or even lesser crashes.

"Around a third of the 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. will be involved in a serious road accident at some point during their careers," notes the article. "That’s a lot of people — more than a million — experiencing potentially severe job-related trauma."

"No matter the cause ... being involved in an accident can leave lasting mental scars. Being in a wreck — or even seeing one — can cause enough stress and anxiety to become a diagnosable mental illness, like acute stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)."

The article also points out that many of these drivers will not get treatment for mental disorders, both because men (who make up the vast majority of the driver workforce) are less likely to seek treatment than women, and also because the nature of the job makes it difficult to get any medical treatment, much less mental health care.

While fleets are setting up wellness programs to address issues such as smoking, obesity and sleep apnea, they might want to think about access to mental health care as well.

I'd like to hear from you: Does your company have any programs addressing the mental health of drivers? Drivers, have you experienced traumatic incidents on the road that haunt you?

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

View Bio