Presently, there are about 8 million licensed CDL drivers in the United States. Approximately 4.5 million of these are active truck drivers. Professional truck driving, specifically over the road trucking, has always been noted as a field dominated by men. The rough and tough trucking life could only be handled by a real man . . . well, times are changing!
Women in trucking actually goes back to 1929 when Lillie Elizabeth Drennan became the first women to receive the CDL license. Driving an old Chevrolet, she was a rugged lady who carried a loaded revolver with her on her trucking adventures. Born in 1897, she paved the way for women truckers up to her passing in 1974.
Today, there are nearly 170,000 women truckers, making up 5% of all U.S. trucking jobs. By the end of 2007, that number is expected to attain 200,000. What motivates these women to leave the general work place? You will find that independence and the irrepressible challenge of truck driving jobs are the two most common motivations given. Another important reason is the wage-earning aspect. Truck driving averages 20-30% higher wages than jobs’ women usually enter into. Woman in trucking is on such a rise in the United States that it is the cause of such great organizations such as the National and International Women’s Trucking Association. Also, women are taking on more important leading roles such as management, safety, dispatching, sales and recruiting.
In the beginning, this new breed of trucker was hard for their men counterparts to accept. As time passed, men took notice as these incredible women showed their determination and abilities to handle the big rigs. I remember one day when I was parked at the Petro Truck Stop in El Paso, Texas and a driver came in and was attempting to back into a very tight spot next to a light pole. After several attempts, he pulled away frustrated. Right behind him, came this massive looking Peterbuilt and whipped right up and “hit” the spot on the very first try. I thought to myself, “Now that is one good driver.” As the door of the Peterbuilt opened, this tiny little lady that stood only about 5’4″ bounded out and made her way up to the truck stop! I just chuckled to myself and went to bed.
All truck drivers encounter the dangers and hardships associated with truck driving jobs, more so however, for over the road trucking. Women truckers are more vulnerable to these dangers and need to adhere to far greater rules of safety. Listed below are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Avoid rest areas at all times, especially at night.
2. Keep doors locked at all times.
3. Never advertise that you are alone, even using the C.B. radio
4. Stay away from driving on back roads or taking “short cuts.”
5. When parking at a truck stop, try parking as close to the front door as possible.
6. At all parking spots, attempt to park under a well-lighted area.
7. ALWAYS carry a cell phone.
I, for one, consider it a great testimony to the strength and determination of our country’s women to take on such a demanding obstacle of over the road truck driving. It is not the easiest way of life. I am also continually impressed by those women who not only have succeeded in this difficult lifestyle, but have also maintained their feminine qualities. My experiences have also shown that trucking companies show more respect and even provide BETTER opportunities to women drivers. Truck driving jobs are not for everyone. Do your homework and research the full aspects of the trucking life. If it is something that appeals to you, and you can manage all the responsibilities of home and family life, along with the struggles of truck driving careers, then give it a try. You may find yourself in that category of those wonderful women truckers!
About the author:
Aubrey Allen Smith is a veteran over the road driver with over 2 million safe miles and a former owner of several successful trucking companies. He is an expert in the area of truck driving jobs and an advocate for trucking safety. Please visit the Truth About Trucking to learn how to avoid the scams of the trucking industry.
© 2007 – 2016, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.