A recent article posted in the Newspaper.com stated that the Department of Transportation was promoting women to enter a career as a professional CDL driver: “US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wants to put more women behind the wheels of big-rigs.”
According to The announcement, “U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood signed an agreement with the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) International to encourage women to complete undergraduate and graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math – while pursuing careers in transportation.” This program does not appear to be targeted towards CDL professional truck drivers who are considered “unskilled” labor by the Department of Labor.
Secretary of the US Department of Transportation, Ray LaHood announced at a Women’s Small Business Day hosted by the Department of Transportation (DOT), that he would like to see more women in the transportation industry by expanding an existing intern program.
According to a recent press release , the program is one of several internships and fellowship programs offered through the U.S. Department of Transportation for both high school and college age girls. The expanded effort supports President Obama’s mission and the work of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
Although the idea of encouraging more women into the transportation industry is to be applauded, the thought of using transportation funds for this, rather than for the repair of roads and bridges or securing more safe truck parking ( such as Jason’s Law, HR 2156 and S970) must be questioned.
Recently we were told by a staffer in the Highways and Transit subcommittee that funding was low and that this is a main reason that Jason’s Law has been sitting in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. So where then, are these funds coming from which are being used to promote more women entering the trucking industry? I would think that we would be more interested in repairing the roads and protecting our “unskilled women” who are already in the industry driving big trucks.
This does lead up to another problem which should be mentioned:
There is and has been a strong recruitment movement going on via organizations, truck driving schools, trucking companies, government work force placement programs and grants and incentives, in order to encourage more women to enter the “unskilled” level of the trucking industry as a CDL driver.
This is a major concern of ours and others alike, as the CDL training going on within trucking companies has not been one to be admired. Often women are not told what to realistically expect when entering a CDL training program, including the fact that they will be living in a truck for 3 months with a total stranger, the trainer.
Many times the requirements for drivers to be trainers are no more than the “desire for them to be one.”
The fact that there are no strict guidelines set up by many of the companies has caused numerous problems for trainees, including the lack of a way for trainees to safely remove themselves from situations which could either cause emotional stress or even worse, bodily harm.
There has been a tremendous increase in women entering the field of truck driving, and yet the number of actual women drivers has not significantly increased, still sitting at five to six percent of total drivers. So where are all those increased “numbers of women” entering into trucking that have been recruited? Why isn’t the increased figure of women drivers entering matching the number of actual drivers? The main reason is . . . that they do not stay for very long, many not making it past the training process. This is a clear sign that something is wrong in the way that many trucking companies conduct their CDL training programs.
So I suggest this to everyone promoting the advancement and promotion of women entering the trucking industry:
Create a program to protect the women that you have already encouraged to enter the industry, before you try to promote more women to come in.
I challenge every organization, company, or government program to create a data base of driver statistics which includes all women they have successfully recruited into the industry as a CDL driver, and then maintain records to follow up with them in order to determine if they are still driving, and if not . . . WHY?
Would this not make more sense? I for one, would like to know why more and more women are entering the trucking industry, and yet their numbers are not going up?
I believe if you are reading this that you would like to know too.
© 2010, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.