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The Pandemic’s Toll on Driver Mental and Physical Health

A LONG YEAR

Throughout this pandemic, professional drivers have continued to work hard. They have been delivering essential goods to all sectors of the economy. Unfortunately, this has had quite the toll on overall driver mental and physical health.

At times, trucking can be an isolated career. COVID-19 restrictions, while necessary for the health of all, exacerbated these feelings for many.

With many truck stops and restaurants closed, drivers had limited access to washrooms, showers, healthy foods, and fewer opportunities to socialize with other drivers and customers.

Additionally, truckers had to worry about contracting and spreading the virus. They may be concerned about health issues which are common in drivers – such as diabetes and high blood pressure – that can cause a worse outcome if one does become infected. This fact was another source of stress for much of the driver population. It did not help the media was widely reporting on the spread of the virus in the driver community.

The situation and reality:

Despite the media, a survey done by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) found that out of over 12,000 drivers, 60 contracted the virus. That is an infection rate of only 0.5%! Professional drivers were not quite the superspreaders the media was making them out to be, though that does not make the accusations truckers faced any less stressful or alarming.

Common stressers:

A nutritionist and health coach with NAL Insurance, Andrea Morley, discussed the impact COVID-19 and restrictions have had on drivers during the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada’s Annual Conference. This event was held (virtually) from June 16th – 18th.
She argued that trucking has been one of the most essential industries, after healthcare, during this pandemic. She also discussed her concerns about how the pandemic has impacted professional drivers’ health – both physically and mentally.

Major worries for many drivers concerned needing to follow numerous COVID-19 protocols, the risk of spreading the virus to families at home, divided opinions regarding the virus and vaccinations on social media, and the responsibility of ensuring vital supplies got where they needed to go. All these things have caused many drivers to become wrought with stress and fatigue.

Morley also urged employers of drivers to keep an eye on their drivers’ mental health and promote any available mental health resources.

What drivers need to do:

Morley suggested that one benefit that COVID-19 restrictions have had on drivers is the emergence of virtual healthcare. She encouraged drivers to take advantage of such resources as they travel far from home.

Even as restrictions start to ease, it is important for drivers to keep all of this in mind. Driver mental and physical health is more important now than ever. It is also vital for others to talk about the issues facing this industry so drivers may feel as if they are not alone.

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