Navigation Links
Study examines how truck drivers react to marketplace demands for speed and flexibility
Date:8/12/2013

NEW YORK CITY Benjamin Snyder conducted his research in the cab of a truck hauling frozen chicken from Missouri to Virginia.

Snyder, a graduate sociology student in the University of Virginia's Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, will present his paper, "The Professionalized Body: Truck Driving in the Age of Flexibilization," at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Snyder explores how truck drivers, as representatives of the American workforce, are reacting to marketplace demands for speed and flexibility.

The paper relies on research for Snyder's dissertation, which examines how post-industrial capitalism is changing the environments in which people work and how this affects workers' minds, bodies, and emotions. Snyder said while much of his research revealed deeply concerning problems with the way workplaces are changing, it was uplifting to see people being creative to make a meaningful life for themselves.

For his dissertation, Snyder spent three years interviewing long-haul truck drivers and riding in trucks, interviewing bond traders and spending time on the trading floor, and talking with unemployed people who were looking for work following the 2008 financial collapse.

"Capitalist organizations that are trying to make a profit have to be more efficient and more flexible in moving freight," he said. "They need speed and flexibility in their operations to move freight when the markets demand it. Goods have to move at a moment's notice, so that they are either in transport or on store shelves and not sitting in a warehouse somewhere."

To meet the demands of the market, truck drivers learn about the rhythms of their bodies and how to manipulate them, such as timing their sleep to take advantage of the rising sun.

"After two or three hours of driving, they get fatigued, but then the sun comes up and they get a burst of energy," Snyder said. "I have felt that."

He said the drivers know how far they can drive when fatigued and will do things to keep themselves going, such as frequently showering at truck stops. Some take legal stimulants such as caffeine pills, "which can work in a pinch," Snyder said. The drivers understand, however, that their bodies will wear down under this regimen.

"They know when they let you down, you really crash, and then you have to sleep," Snyder said of the stimulants. "The drivers can sleep at the drop of a hat, but it can be rough on the body."

Diet also poses a big challenge for the drivers, a problem the trucking industry is trying to address.

"A lot of the drivers have a taste for fatty food, but also you have to work hard to find healthy alternatives," Snyder said. "The truck-stop chains have a few healthy offerings, but they are the same in each one. Drivers sometimes try to find healthy food outside of the system, or cook more of their own food. Some try to pick up healthy food when they deliver to markets. Some of them take food prepared at home, but a lot of these guys are pressed for time. They drive, and they sleep."

With their diet, drivers are susceptible to developing diabetes and other diseases.

"The drivers have higher rates of everything associated with obesity," Snyder said. "They have bad knees, shoulders, backs. I can spot a truck driver by how he walks. Most of them have a hunched-over, slow walk. They have a lot of chronic health issues."

Complicating the health issues and the fatigue are federal regulations that limit drivers, who get paid by the mile, to drive no more than 11 hours in a 14-hour period.

"It is difficult because they want to be safe, and they want to make money," he said. "They need to try to balance these issues. They want to stay on schedule for the shippers and satisfy federal regulations, and they face problems of traffic, weather, and mechanical failures."

Snyder rode with one driver who was delivering a load of frozen chickens from Missouri to Virginia. He and the driver arrived on time at 2 p.m., but there was a problem at the plant, and the chickens weren't ready to ship. The driver and Snyder were forced to wait for 10 hours until the load was ready.

"In a case like this, the driver has to make decisions," Snyder said. "'Should I sleep now?' 'Should I drive through the middle of the night?'" The chickens were eventually ready to ship around midnight, and the driver, who had gotten little rest, had to drive through the night, taking a few short breaks at truck stops.

"I was fighting to stay awake in the passenger seat, and I knew he was fatigued," Snyder said. "Nothing bad happened to us, but this takes a toll on the body. I could feel it."

While he does not have a commercial driving license, Snyder rode in the cabs with the drivers, covering the miles with them, eating when and what they ate, sleeping when they slept.

"I thought I would get to see the country, but what I got to see was the interstates," he said. "'Here we are again on I-70.' I know one driver who keeps driving by the Grand Canyon, and he's never stopped to see it."

Although Snyder said aspects of the driving life were appealing, he did not think he was suited for it.

"I don't think I have what it takes," he said. "You have to be a shrewd businessman. I left that part of the research thinking what an amazing group of people these drivers are, incredible people."

He also understood that the truck cab was their workplace.

"The drivers are living this life, sleeping in different places every day, as if they were on a permanent road trip," Snyder said. "But these are family guys going to work every day."

His research has given him greater appreciation for what is involved in the shipping mechanisms on which the economy runs, moving goods from one point to another.

"If I am shopping online, I know now that when I click that 'ship' button, I am putting into motion a whole system of people whose job is to get it there fast," Snyder said. "They are working in ways that are unhealthy to them so I can get things fast."


'/>"/>

Contact: Daniel Fowler
pubinfo@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Study finds that some depressed adolescents are at higher risk for developing anxiety
2. Onsite colposcopy clinic improves cancer screening rates: Study
3. Study: Many evangelicals are ambivalent about homosexuality and civil unions for gays
4. Study to investigate mental health care for prisoners
5. Study paints complex health portrait of single-room occupancy hotel tenants in Downtown Eastside
6. UC Davis Children's Hospital Study Finds Telemedicine Consultations Significantly Improve Pediatric Care in Rural Emergency Rooms
7. A New Case Study Demonstrates How Orriant’s Company Wellness Plans Help Maintain a Healthier Lifestyle
8. Study shows who survives Burkitt lymphoma
9. Study suggests pattern in lung cancer pathology may predict cancer recurrence after surgery
10. Study casts doubt on theory that retired NFL players suffer unique cognitive disorder
11. Study: Heart pump with behind-the-ear power connector
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/26/2016)... , ... May 26, 2016 , ... ... clinical outcomes, hosted members and suppliers for its inaugural Member Conference at the ... their mission of elevating the operational health of America’s healthcare providers. , The ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) , ... May 26, 2016 , ... ... the men and women who lost their lives in military battle for the country. ... discount cards in 2015 to provide more programs that empower independence for disabled military ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... There are nearly 14.5 million people ... cancer survivors worldwide. On Sunday, June 5, 2016, communities around the world will gather ... Day®. , National Cancer Survivors Day® is an annual worldwide Celebration of Life ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Dr. James Maisel will present on “Macular ... on June 4, 2016, 1:30-3:30 pm at the Farmingdale Public Library. The presentation ... of New York , is a Board Certified ophthalmologist who completed his fellowship ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... ... May 26, 2016 , ... Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial ... is sharing tips to make sure your family and vehicle are ready to ... Council, there may be 439 deaths and an additional 50,500 serious injuries from motor ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/27/2016)... SAN FRANCISCO , May 27, 2016 ... biotechnology company focused on developing products for Regenerative Medicine, Neurology and ... Commissiong will be presenting at two upcoming investor conferences: ... Conference Center, 730 Third Avenue, New York City ... at 3:00pm Marcum MicroCap Conference   ...
(Date:5/26/2016)... May 26, 2016   Change Healthcare ... analytics, network solutions and technology-enabled services designed ... entered into a strategic channel partnership with ... software solutions and revenue cycle management services ... and rehabilitation clinics to optimize revenue, operational ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... and GERMANTOWN, Maryland , May 25, 2016 ... ; Frankfurt Prime Standard: QIA) today announced that the company ... Diagnostics GmbH to develop and commercialize predictive assays in oncology. ... as a marker to predict effectiveness of anthracycline treatment in ... "We are pleased to partner with Therawis, which developed the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: