When it comes to jobs that people don’t want to do, truck driving is nearing the top of the list. Having to be in a stationary position for hours on end but maintaining razor-sharp concentration isn’t something that most people could deal with. The trucking industry is tough for men, but women have it tougher.
Being thousands of miles from any kind of support network, they are often exposed to sexual harassment, sexism, personal safety issues, and hygiene while they spend weeks away from home. Things are changing, but the industry has been slow to react to the increasing amount of women who are entering heavy haulage.
With driver capacity shrinking overall, it’s the perfect time for females to enter the industry. If you are an aspiring female trucker, here are the secrets from women who have blazed the trail before you.
20 Pee Bottles Are A Thing
One of the first things that all new truck drivers have to get used to is the bathroom situation. While everybody knows that using bottles are the norm so the freight keeps moving, few people know that there are no concessions made for either gender. Getting off a highway and maneuvering into a truck stop can waste 30 minutes so it’s something new drivers come to terms with fairly quickly.
19 Harassment Is Still The Norm
To be honest, truck drivers can be pretty rough with a very unique sense of humor. While most blue-collar industries have moved past this, the truck driving industry still has its problems to sort out. Female drivers are sometimes made to feel intimidated and harassed with most complaints swept under the carpet.
18 It Can Be Hard To Find Clothing That Fits
Finding clothes that fit correctly can be an exercise in patience, as most companies don’t make uniforms to suit women. Often they will have to make do with whatever they can get with ill-fitting clothes often being all that is available. Hopefully, with more women entering the industry, this will soon be a thing of the past.
17 Extra Care Must Always Be Taken
It’s no surprise that truck driving can be a lonely business and when incidents happen, they need to be reported quickly, especially if one party is female. The reasoning behind this is that incidents can escalate quickly, putting female drivers in particular danger. Women often undertake additional training to learn de-escalation techniques.
16 Special Emergency Procedures
Women have been driving trucks since 1918 and have established a pretty good network for support and emergency response that can be called upon if needed. When a situation requires it, no matter where a person is, help can be reached by telephone or CB radio. Emergency response plans can be called up for any situation and help sent immediately.
15 They Drive Longer Distances
Women are generally more co-operative when it comes to working with their coworkers. Figures show that female truck drivers are more likely to team up for long-distance driving so the truck will keep moving, rather than their male counterparts who prefer to drive the route alone, taking regular rest stops.
14 The Place They Feel Most Vulnerable
A survey taken in 2016 amongst female truck drivers showed that the place they feel most vulnerable on the job is at truck stops. Women drivers advise other females to not walk around alone and make yourself visible and to always park where it’s well lit and where the truck is always visible to them.
13 The Danger Of The Job Keeps Most Women Away
With the popularity of dashcam compilations and onboard videos, new drivers and especially women, are even more cautious than ever about entering the industry. The risks of the job are easily visible to anyone who does a quick search. Less than 1% of the workforce in dangerous jobs are taken by women.
12 They Have A Reputation For Being Gentler On Equipment
Most male truck drivers are quite mechanically minded, simply because they need to be able to get their rigs moving again in the event of a breakdown. But women have been found to have a calmer disposition which translates into a more gentle approach to changing gears, braking less suddenly and coasting more frequently.
11 Female Truck Drivers Are Often The Most Unfriendly
A female driver from the USA admitted that she didn’t have too many problems with males in the industry, but other females who drive trucks often gave her the cold shoulder. All of the other male drivers would return her wave if they saw her on the road but other females would sometimes not even glance in her direction.
10 Long Hours Are Offputting
Aside from the dangerous aspect of driving large heavy vehicles thousands of miles at a time, the long hours are a key reason why most women overlook truck driving as a career. It’s not uncommon for drivers to clock up 70 hours a week behind the wheel with breaks being as short as 8 hours.
9 The Pay Gap? Forget It
The wage gap is a hotly debated topic but the fact of the matter is that in the trucking industry, it simply doesn’t exist. Men and women are both paid the same rate as drivers. The carrier sets this rate based on either hours worked, mileage driven or a percentage of the load. Gender, age or ethnicity is never considered.
8 Their Capability Is Always Questioned
Although driving a modern truck is much less physically demanding than in years gone by, some companies will have doubts about hiring women because of their smaller build. The concern seems to be over how some women can handle loading and unloading despite the technological advances to make this aspect of the job easier.
After listening to dozens of women tell their stories about why they got into truck driving, a common reason for entering the industry is to escape some kind of turmoil in their lives. This can be a marriage breakdown or termination of employment, but a major change of lifestyle is generally the reason for women entering the trucking industry.
6 Kids On The Road
For women who have sole custody of their children, employers are understandably flexible. There is a percentage of children who seem to live on the road, going to work with their mother and being homeschooled. It definitely isn’t the norm, but an option for mothers who need to keep working to remain afloat financially.
5 Armed To The Teeth
Unfortunately, because of the physical danger of being alone at truck stops, many women have taken to sleeping with tasers or pepper spray under their pillow when they’re on the road. Regulatory bodies are often slow to put protective measures in place leaving it up to drivers to protect themselves.
4 Constant Attention
If you think that reversing a vehicle that is 80 feet long is difficult, imagine doing it with dozens of eyes watching your every move. For female truck drivers, this is a common occurrence with one driver describing it like being an ant under a microscope. Female truck drivers are still a rare sight so they naturally attract a lot of interest.
3 The Most Dangerous Place For Female Truck Drivers
Thankfully, the truckers code of helping one another out no matter what is genderless so women can rely on their fellow drivers. The most dangerous place for a female truck driver to be isn’t at a truck stop but alone in public. With nobody around to call for support, women who drive trucks must always be cautious about who is around them.
2 6% Of Truck Drivers Are Female
Things are slowly improving for women who want to enter male-dominated industries but at the moment, only 6% of truck drivers are female. Statistics show that female drivers are also less likely to quit than their male counterparts, which is especially important considering the average turnover rate amongst drivers of 95%.
1 Women Are Safer Drivers
Some other interesting statistics are that every 100 female drivers are involved in 3.41 preventable accidents compared to 3.44 accidents for every 100 male drivers. When software company Omnitracs reviewed their tracking data, they found women also had fewer warnings for excessive speed and hard braking.
Sources: Bloomberg, Business Insider and USA Today.