Why are Britain's van drivers at risk of suffering from SAD?

A timely reminder about SAD for Britain's van community

October 2019

New research from Mercedes-Benz Vans has revealed one in three UK van drivers suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter months. With this in mind, we’ve teamed up with former Liverpool and England footballer, Chris Kirkland, to raise awareness of SAD before the clocks go back on Sunday 27th October.

It’s time to take SAD seriously

Our latest research shows that the shorter days and reduced sunlight of winter can have a serious effect on the health of van drivers. 30% of those surveyed admitted to suffering from SAD, which can lead to depression, lethargy and reduced concentration. These symptoms were reflected in our broader findings with 83% saying they feel more tired in autumn and winter, and 48% admitting to nearly falling asleep at the wheel – emphasising how SAD can place drivers and other road users at risk. Many drivers work long hours, driving in dark, winter conditions, making them more vulnerable to SAD and related mental health issues. That’s why it’s essential that the wider van community – business owners, managers and drivers – recognise the condition and offer support to anyone who shows signs of being affected.

Teaming up to tackle mental health

During a seventeen-year career, six-foot-six goalkeeper, Chris Kirkland, played at the very highest level – representing Liverpool and England, as well as having spells at then Premier League clubs Coventry, West Bromwich Albion and Wigan before playing in the Championship with Leicester, Doncaster, Sheffield Wednesday and Preston.

However, at the end of his playing days, Chris disclosed his secret four-year battle with anxiety, which started after his move from Wigan to Sheffield Wednesday in 2012.

Being away from his wife and daughter played on his mind, and the commute from the north-west to South Yorkshire was proving too much. Despite this, he played at Hillsborough for three years without his mental battles affecting his performances on the pitch.

Using tactics to cope with mental health issues

It was at his final club, Bury, where Chris Kirkland thought about committing suicide while at a training camp in Portugal. It was then he decided to call time on his career and bravely admit he was suffering with mental health issues. But his battle is far from over. Just a few months ago, Chris took to Twitter to reveal he was seeking help at a rehabilitation centre in North Wales.

It’s Chris’s mission to get more men talking about their mental health, which is why Mercedes-Benz Vans have teamed up with him. In addition to encouraging discussion, we’re sharing the tactics used by the nation’s van drivers to feel less tired on the road during the winter months.

  • The most common method for van drivers to alleviate tiredness when driving is by taking a break, and the second most common technique was simply winding down a window
  • 61% pack a snack to give themselves a boost
  • And 53% of 16-24 year olds consume coffee to help

Chris reached out to those around him when he realised his health was becoming a concern, and is an advocate of people talking more about their mental health struggles. However, if the condition continues to be a problem, a trip to the GP is a sensible step.

By being aware of SAD, van drivers can take steps like these to reduce the dangers it creates.

How do you cope during the winter?


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Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer

The Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer is a nationwide quarterly survey of businesses large and samll, created to help us understand the economic landscape and discover what van owners and drivers need to keep their business moving. For more information visit: https://bit.ly/2UUsiRJ

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