203276 Looking at the world through a windshield: Experiences of long-haul truck drivers

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Julia B. Wenger, BA , Department of Public Health and Family Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
As part of a research project, I interviewed or received written correspondences from a total of 42 truck drivers (driving experience ranging from 2 months to 30 years) of different ages, genders, and ethnicities living in 15 states. I posed three questions to respondents: 1) What made you decide to choose your profession, 2) What are your concerns (if any) as a driver, and 3) What do you like most and least about your job? Many respondents became truck drivers to improve their salaries over their previous employment; to spend more time with their family members; to pursue an interest in trucks, driving, and the truck driving community; and to achieve a sense of freedom. Regardless of the reasons for becoming truck drivers, many of their dreams and aspirations about being a truck driver were not realized. High fuel costs; sleep deprivation; chronic physical and emotional health problems; and unsafe driving conditions and company practices were themes reported by many of the drivers I spoke to. Regardless of the barriers that truck drivers face in their industry, they still hold onto their romanticized views of the industry that they had prior to becoming a truck driver. The freedom of the open road and the independence they yearn for still calls to them and make it difficult for them to leave regardless of the hardships they face.

Learning Objectives:
1. To illustrate the health and emotional hazards experienced by long-haul truck drivers 2. To inform public health policy to improve the health of this vulnerable population

Keywords: Occupational Health, Underserved Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I performed the research and analysis for this project. I have been involved in epidemiological research for the past 3 years and I will be obtaining my Master's in Public Health degree in May 2009.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.