Truckers face great challenges on the road. It’s not just ELDs, DOT inspections and lack of parking to worry about. Trucking is one of the most stressful jobs and the sacrifice it takes to get a load from Point A to Point B could break person. There are 4 Horsemen of truckers and when there is one there is another.
Road Accidents – While it may be obvious that the possibility of an accident on the road would make the job seriously hazardous, the statistics and pictures make it even more horrific. One statistic is that 30% of truckers will have a major job related accident in their careers. Drivers of 4-wheel vehicles beware, cutting off a truck can be deadly for you and the guy behind the 18-wheeler that weighs 80,000 loaded.
Divorce/Separation – Relationships are hard enough for people but with truck drivers out on the road all the time relationships suffer tremendously. It’s the wife or husband’s birthday? Sorry, you’re picking a load up in Texas and driving to Pennsylvania. It’s your anniversary? Sorry, you’re stuck at a truck stop in Portland for the next 34 hours. You’re kid is being born? Sorry, there was an accident on the interstate and the truck ain’t moving while emergency rescue pries drivers out of mangled vehicles. It’s not hard to see why truckers have high divorce rates.
Obesity – It is common sense that steady diet of burgers, pizza and fried chicken will make you obscenely large but this does not stop truckers from chomping down and putting on the pounds. Truck stops seem to specialize in the most nutrient lacking fast food one can imagine and it’s often on sale. A couple thousand calories a day without any exercise and it’s no surprise obesity related disease such as diabetes and heart disease exist at a higher rate with truckers than with general population.
Depression and PTSD – Even truckers get the blues. It should not be a surprise that the job that appears to be the apex of the American dream of freedom, independence on an open frontier of asphalt interstates also has a dark side: depression. Most truckers dudes and like many of their non-trucking kin, they not only experience depression but they also do not know how to get help. This would create a vicious cycle of despair and loneliness while out on the road for weeks at a time. The problems could be exacerbated by any of the problems already mentioned: an eating disorder or recent breakup with a significant other. Still, there could be a death in the family with the trucker missing the funeral.
Like soldiers returning home from war, truckers can experience post traumatic stress disorder after witnessing an accident where there were fatalities particularly those of young children and mothers. Untreated, depression and PTSD can lead to other problems including addictive behaviors such as substance abuse and infidelity.
With all the major challenges facing truck drivers, it’s no wonder fewer new drivers are entering the industry every year with news of driver shortages frequent. It may take a concentrated effort by the trucking industry to alleviate the problems truckers face in order to retain experienced drivers and attract new ones.