Drivers and their well-being

Allen Talbot the CEO of Hub – Is tackling driver isolation and loneliness head-on. Let’s dig deeper into the issue at hand. They keep our nation moving, but few of us truly understand the challenges drivers face on a day-to-day basis. It’s vital that we learn to understand them.

Many of these challenges will not be too dissimilar from those faced in other professions – it’s just that the toll being a driver can take is rarely considered. Oftentimes, there is a tendency to dismiss such concerns and complaints – making the false assumption this is an easy job to do. This is by no means the case. With many hours in uncomfortable isolation – having to stay incredibly focused in such a high-risk environment – inadequate pay and a general feeling of being undervalued, it’s not hard to see how these can build up to have some serious impacts on the well-being of drivers.

Isolation and Loneliness

One of the largest contributing factors to the poor mental health of some drivers is the long periods of isolation and the loneliness that follows. As it’s usually just them in the cab, there can be whole days where the only people they see for the full working hours are whoever serves them at the service station when they fill up, use the bathroom and grab a snack. 

People are inherently social creatures, and whilst a lot of people like a bit of alone time – they also like to know they can turn to people for company if they need it. Truck drivers are not provided that luxury – and their only friends in those times are podcasts or the radio. These are great distractions by the way.

Services like Audible are great for keeping drivers engaged during their day when the road gets boring, but sometimes this isn’t enough. Long times away from family and friends isn’t good for anyone, let alone without any human contact. This isolation, on top of the long hour’s drivers have to often commit themselves to, can increase the risk of tiredness and fatigue – something that carries with it a great danger to public safety, as well as to the drivers themselves.

Anxiety and Depression

The loneliness and isolation can lead to further problems such as anxiety and depression – as well as removing solutions for those currently existing with those issues. What is meant by this is that a friend or someone being there to help you through bouts of depression and panic attacks that come with anxiety can massively reduce the harm it has on you, as well as reducing the duration of these episodes. Without that help, people can easily spiral – and if anything, it isn’t safe for someone to be driving such a high-risk vehicle in one of these states for them, and others.

Starting a dialogue

Mind suggests that:

  • As many as 1 in 4 people a year will suffer a mental health problem
  • Up to 1 in 6 reports experiencing an existing problem each week

To put these numbers into perspective, try to imagine a fully packed Wembley Stadium – that’s 90,000 people. That would mean that of those 90,000 – 22,500 will suffer from a mental health problem that year. Coincidentally, that’s exactly how many fans were allowed into Wembley for England’s opening match against Croatia at the last Euros – and they sure did make a lot of noise didn’t they, creating an atmosphere that felt electric. If that amount of people can make so much noise in a space designed for so many more – why is it the same proportion of people have so much trouble having their voices heard when it comes to discussing their mental health?

This is because as a society, we refuse to have these conversations as people often feel embarrassed or like a burden for bringing it up. Whilst these people are large in number, they are still a minority of people, and thus feel separated from the ‘norm’ of society who don’t have these issues. Talking is the best first step we can take, because as the saying goes, the first step to solve any problem is to acknowledge there is a problem.

Everything that has been said here need not only apply to drivers. All of us can fall victim to ill-health and a troubled state of mind. The most important step any of us can take is being able to acknowledge these issues in everyone – and to treat everyone as being vulnerable to such problems. This way, we can take the next steps forward to addressing those problems, going some way towards making everyone’s working life something they don’t just endure, but enjoy.