Our industry has more female professional truck drivers than ever before — here’s three easy ways to support them.
The face of professional truck driving is beginning to look different. Though it’s still a male-dominated career, the trucking industry is becoming more diverse. Today, more than 10% of CDL-A holders are women, and according to FreightWaves, the number of female drivers has doubled in the last decade.
That’s not only good news for carriers, but for our shippers as well. Between a resurgent economy and the ongoing capacity crunch, we need more drivers than ever before. Women professional drivers often have stronger safety scores than their male peers, as they’re 20% less likely to be involved in an accident. Ellen Voie, CEO of Women in Trucking, said, “In every category, from reckless driving to improper lane changing, women were found to be safer drivers.”
However, there are challenges our industry should address so we can continue to properly support and encourage our female drivers.
According to Women in Trucking, there are specific circumstances in professional truck driving when most women don’t feel safe, which could slow the speed of women entering the field. Eighty-seven percent of women surveyed said truck stops are unsafe for women, and more than 85% said rest stops are unsafe, as well. Similarly, 74% of women said shipper facilities can pose safety threats.
We can all do our part, but as a shipper, consider these three ways you can directly support our female drivers.
Create well-lit areas for parking and bathrooms at your shipping locations. According to the Women in Trucking survey, “… 77% of women remain in lighted areas as much as possible when they stop at a truck stop or rest area, while another 47% attempt to remain around other humans.” At shipping locations, make sure the areas where drivers spend their time is well-lit, not isolated, and clearly visible. Additionally, make sure drivers can quickly learn whether your shipping location has restrooms they can use. Many female truck drivers plan their restroom breaks in advance so they can avoid unsafe or poorly lit truck stops. Making sure they know they can depend on you for a safe place to take a break is an easy way to make your company welcoming to everyone.
Assure respect is given equally. When the industry is comprised of 90% men, women are viewed as outliers, and outliers are often treated differently. Even if intentions are well-meaning, it’s not hard to undermine someone by not giving them the respect they deserve. As our industry changes, consider an expectation-setting meeting with your team that stresses the importance of treating everyone equally. They’re all doing the same exact job, after all.
Consider extra training for security staff. On-site security staff are charged with making sure everyone is safe. If your staff aren’t trained to spot the signs of harassment or abuse, consider enrolling your team in a reputable program like Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT). TAT even offers a Shipping Partners Program that is specific training for staff at shipper locations. Training your staff to spot red flags is a valuable tool for creating a safe workplace.
Women are entering professional truck driving at a faster rate than ever before, and that’s a great thing — women are safer drivers, and we need their skills to meet the market’s shipping demands. Go the extra mile to make sure they feel safe and respected to help ensure their number continues to grow in our industry.