Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by either experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. In the trucking industry, a good example of this is when an O/O or Driver is involved in or witnesses a horrific accident. Individuals often get symptoms that may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
Most people that go through these types of traumatic events may have temporary difficulty coping, but with time and good self-care, they can usually get better. However, in some the symptoms get worse, lasting for months or even years, and can interfere with their day-to-day functioning; For these individuals, PTSD is typically the diagnosis.
As most WSIB Alternative providers don’t cover PTSD claims, O/O’s that may be experiencing issues tend to want to get back behind the wheel too soon because they have bills to pay. However, over the last few years, more O/O’s are realizing that if their disability provider does not offer coverage, that they can file a claim against the Statutory Accident Benefits (SAB’s) of the Carriers Auto Policy. SAB’s benefits provide full benefits and counselling support for PTSD caused in a motor vehicle accident, even if the O/O’s didn’t suffer any physical injuries.
Recently a long-time industry safety executive who was presenting to a group of safety managers at their insurance captive meeting suggested that they were starting to see more PTSD Claims from O/O’s. These tragic incidents were paying out “significant Accident Benefit claims” from individuals that were involved in a major accident. Some of the mental and emotional trauma that they face could have resulted from something as simple as not being secured in the sleeper berth of the vehicle that was involved in a roll over. He added that years ago, drivers involved in these types of accidents may just decide to get out of the industry and try a different career. Today, more are recognizing that they are facing a mental health issue, and are therefore starting to file PTSD claims under the Statutory Accident Benefits of the Carriers Auto policy.
But it’s not just PTSD that is impacting how the safety of our roads. We all have challenges in our lives that impact how attentive we are on the road. Life challenges like stress, depression, anxiety or problems at home all have an impact on our reaction times. Your driving could be impacted by something as simple as an argument with dispatch over a load, a disagreement with our spouse or child, or a flood in the basement when you are 1500 miles from home.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance, which is a federation of the provincial trucking associations that represent over 4,500 motor carriers formed a Blue Ribbon Task Force on the Driver Shortage “to try and provide leadership in the daunting task of developing a coherent direction for moving forward on the issue.” Their report published in 2012 had the following “Call to Action”.
“Carriers have the primary responsibility, influence and control over quality of life issues in the driver occupation.” They need to “promote a healthier lifestyle focusing on diet, exercise and sleep hygiene and embrace programs such as sleep apnea testing and treatment and communicate in such a way that the drivers see these programs as beneficial to their personal health.”
We all know that a healthier driver (physically & mentally) will have fewer accidents, lose less time from work due to injury or illness and won’t claim as often on their disability and benefit programs. They are also less like likely to leave the industry due to poor physical or health.
With the increasing cost of driver turnover being north of $7,500, more fleets are looking at all the solutions to help maintain their O/O’s and Drivers. Could investing a bit more in wellness help your stats?