By Ken Cavallaro Jr., ALC Boston
Pixar Animation Studios brought mental health to the big screen with its award-winning Inside Out, a movie highlighting the conflicting emotions humans face during major life events. These warring emotions can be especially difficult for truck drivers. Tasked with driving an 80,000-pound vehicle loaded with potentially over $250,000 worth of product through endless stretches of road and frustrating traffic snares for twelve hours a day is further complicated by carriers missing quality time with family and friends, disrupted sleep patterns, and often a less than stellar diet.
A survey by the National Library of Medicine shows almost 28% of truckers surveyed reported suffering from loneliness on the road, while 27% reported depression, 21% reported chronic sleep disturbances, 14.5% reported anxiety, and 13% reported other emotional difficulties. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “truckers experience higher rates of obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, divorce, drug use, and suicide.” After celebrating Truck Driver Appreciation Week last month, it’s important that we continue recognizing and advocating for these essential workers who contribute to making our day-to-day lives possible.
Ronald Allen of Points West Express, a second-generation truck driver, has traversed the country for the past 49 years. According to Ronald, missing family events caused the greatest stress during his lengthy driving career. He also attributes difficulty finding time to sleep as contributing to his high-stress level.
“Following what my father did, this is all I knew, which was the best way to provide for my family, and what got me through the day was knowing they were financially ok,” said Ronald.
At Allen Lund Company, we pride ourselves on providing exceptional service to shippers and growers nationwide. Supporting truck drivers that help us achieve this goal – hard-working people like Ronald – is a top priority at our company. As logistics specialists, it is important to remember the challenges drivers face and be sensitive to their struggles so we can help them feel like the respected and valuable members of the supply chain that they are. We might not be able to control their diet, exercise, or sleep habits, but we can listen attentively, share kind words, and practice patience.
Everyone should take a few extra minutes to engage with drivers and ask about their day. In the long run, our extra effort to treat a driver as a person and not just a load number will also benefit our customers. A driver who feels respected will most likely be calmer, more attentive, and ultimately deliver a load with more care. We might not be trained psychologists specializing in mental health, but kindness and sensitivity can go a long way to easing the emotional burdens of our drivers. Knowing we value the person behind the wheel as more than just another load might just be what a driver needs to settle those shifting emotions and safely deliver on time.
Kenneth Cavallaro, Jr. is a carrier manager in the Boston office. He began his career at the Allen Lund Company in February of 2019. Kenneth has been in the transportation industry since May of 1999. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Salem State University.