Although there is significant attention paid to the dangers of long-distance trucking, very little of that attention is paid to the truck driver. Often, truck driving and large trucks are portrayed in a negative light by the media and the mental health of drivers is often ignored. This is despite the fact that research shows truck drivers are at higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Driving a Deadly Weapon
There is no question that the vehicle most truck drivers operate can be considered a deadly weapon, although any vehicle may be used as such. The sheer size and weight of an 18-wheeler makes it far more likely to cause severe injury or death should there be an accident.
This is something every truck driver is well aware of which makes them more likely to attempt to avoid an accident. However, accidents happen and, when they do, the truck driver must deal with the aftermath of that accident, even if they were not at fault.
After a Crash
Many truck drivers have reported mental health issues after an accident, especially if someone is seriously injured or killed in the crash. Even if they witness an accident and stop to help, the memories of what they witnessed could lead to anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and even flashbacks, which are all common symptoms of PTSD.
In some cases, the driver may not even realize that what they are dealing with after an accident is PTSD, which means they never seek help for their symptoms but simply try to deal with them on their own.
Lack of Assistance
It may not be that the truck driver doesn’t want assistance, however. In some cases, the driver may realize that they are suffering from PTSD, but the nature of their industry makes it difficult for them to take the time off they need to seek help. Even if they do visit the doctor, the antianxiety medications that may be prescribed may make it too dangerous for the driver to get behind the wheel of his truck.
Those types of medications also require follow-up to be sure they are the correct dosage and to manage any side effects that may occur. In fact, evidence shows that PTSD is best managed with a combination of medication and psychotherapy, but truck drivers may be unable to take the time for such therapy.
Other Factors in the Treatment of PTSD
It is also important to recognize gender when it comes to PTSD. The majority of truck drivers are male and men are less likely to seek help for mental problems than women. Income levels can also make a difference in seeking mental health help.
If a driver does not have sick or vacation leave that would allow them to continue receiving a salary while seeking treatment, they may have no option but to continue working, as many truck drivers are considered low income. The nature of the industry may also play a factor due to regulations that limit the time a truck driver may be on the road.
If the driver has a therapy appointment scheduled, but his route has him hundreds of miles from home when he must pull over for the night, it is possible he will be unable to keep the appointment. This is a situation that happens often in the trucking industry.
If you are a truck driver and you have been involved in an accident that has led to PTSD, you need to talk to a truck accident lawyer. An attorney can help you get the treatment you need as well as any compensation you are entitled to under the law.