by Pride Transport | Jan 05, 2021
We’ve said this before: the country needs more truck drivers. We keep repeating it because of the unemployment numbers as they are. With people ordering more goods and products online and expecting swift delivery, the need for truck drivers grows, and the occupation’s stability gets stronger every day.
But, there’s another factor we want to stress: the trucking industry needs women drivers. It’s true. In a business that, for decades, has been seen as a man’s job, we feel the need for more women. We want women to return to truck driving. If you look at the history of trucking, you’ll see that women were not only an integral part of the business in the beginning, they are also a strong voice in it today.
During WWII, female truck drivers were more common. In fact, most jobs in male-dominated fields became open and occupied by women as all the men were off fighting the war. Women were often encouraged to take jobs in the male-dominated industries to help the country, make some serious money, and keep the economy going.
The funny thing is when women took over the jobs that were usually done by men, they thrived. This country could not have survived without the industrious drive of the women who stayed behind and held down the jobs while their men were away. The image of Rosie the Riveter could easily have Tammy the Truck Driver. Women were an essential and integral part of this nation's economy while the men were away. Without women stepping into the workforce to rivet, drive, build, and weld, the country may have won WWII, but the devastation of the economy at home would have been drastic. Women kept this country alive during the war.
Organizations such as realwomenintrucking.com have given a voice and a platform to more women who are interested in truck driving and those already in the business who are working for better conditions and safety for women drivers.
For the women out there looking at driving a truck but are hesitant, we want you to come back, rejoin the ranks of drivers and keep this country rolling. If you’re ready to jump in, here are some tips, from women, on how to have the best experience and fulfilling life as a truck driver.
Confidence is Key
This is pretty much a truth in all of life. If you have confidence in yourself, you will be in a better position to succeed. One thing that many women drivers say to gain confidence is to ask as many questions as you can and ask questions often.
There is a fallacy that people who ask questions don’t know what they’re doing, and so, some folks avoid asking questions so as not to look “stupid” or uniformed. True, not asking may keep you under the radar but, it’s not going to help you learn or get better. And this applies to all manner of situations. You learn by asking.
The more you ask, the more you know, and the more you know, the more confident you will be.
“Don't be scared! This isn't the man's world it once was. Be strong and confident.” - Meara Lynn, Pride driver.
This is good advice. If you feel stress driving your car in heavy traffic in lousy weather, imagine your stress level when driving 80,000 pounds of truck in that traffic and weather. In that situation, remaining calm, keeping your wits about you, and having confidence in your skills will carry the day.
All drivers experience stress; whether it’s because people driving cars on the road don’t understand what it takes to handle a truck or traffic is a nightmare, or road construction, stress is part of the job. Don’t exacerbate it by giving in to it and letting it take the wheel.
How you handle stress is going to speak to your strength in the job. Every single driver on the road feels stress at some point, it’s part of the job. Stay on top of it, take care of yourself and you’ll learn to overcome it.
Don’t Ask Others to do For You
There’s a vast difference between asking for assistance and just letting someone else do a task that you find difficult. If you need assistance to learn the skill and get better, ask for that but, don’t allow someone else to do your job for you.
Do all the required tasks in the job description. Some tasks may be difficult for you, so ask questions, get advice, and then do it. That’s the only way to learn and the only way to get better.
Also, you’ll find you get more respect when you do it yourself. Drivers are all part of a team, and you don’t want to be seen as the team member that no one can rely on or the one who needs a lot of extra attention. There’s work to be done, and most drivers don’t have the time or energy to do their job and yours as well.
“Advice for the ladies wanting to be drivers? Keep your eyes open, your camera ready, and get out there. The country needs us to keep it moving.” - Shelia Bledsoe, Pride driver.
Be Patient With Yourself
This may sound easy, but it’s not. When the stress builds, and you’re in some kind of competition with yourself or a perceived competition with other drivers, you may look at every mistake and start to berate yourself. Do all you can to avoid this kind of behavior.
Every single person who has gotten behind the wheel of a truck has made mistakes. Even wizened veterans make mistakes. Mistakes are a natural part of our learning process in any situation. The thing is, don’t concentrate on the mistakes. Learn from them and move forward. Look past the mistakes to the new information you’ve now gained and apply it to the job.
As a woman, you might think you need to be better than everyone to survive in this business, and that’s just not true. You only need to be better than you were yesterday. Don’t allow your sex to color how you do the job. Don’t punish yourself when you make a mistake because you’re a woman, and think you need to “show them.” Relax, and give yourself permission to make a mistake, and be patient with yourself when you do.
It’s very easy when you’re starting to isolate and try to take care of everything yourself. Even though you’re in the truck alone, you’re still part of a team. Managers, technicians, dispatchers, and the other drivers are all part of the team. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them all.
We’ve already discussed asking questions, but it should extend beyond that. Talk to other drivers about the daily routines, stories from the road, and funny things they experienced when they started. Don’t carry the burden of learning all on your own.
Being social, sharing stories like that pull you out of your solitary mindset, and make the struggles you may experience early on more comfortable to handle. It always feels better when someone shares your experiences; you don’t feel so alone.
Taking time in the morning to trip plan is essential. A few extra minutes spent checking the weather, road conditions, accident reports, as well as planning where you’re going to stop for the night will save you time down the road. The more you’re prepared for, the more you can handle when life throws wrenches at you.
“My number one piece of advice is that safety has to come first. When you’re driving, you’re in command of the truck, and you have to be able to make the call on what is and what isn’t safe. No load is worth anyone’s life. Also, hard work and dedication are valuable tools in any job. And lastly, being friendly and flexible when dealing with customers can go a long way.” - Anne Alldredge, Pride Truck driver.
A Positive Attitude Goes a Long Way
If you’re asking other drivers, male or female, for advice or help, do it with a positive attitude, be polite, and listen to them when they’re talking. Then, follow up. Find them and let them know how their advice helped and made a difference in your job.
Also, be polite on the road. This isn’t an easy task as most people who share the road with drivers have no idea what goes into driving a truck. You can change their attitude about trucks and truck drivers by being positive.
Be positive and gracious with your customers as well. It will make your life that much easier if the customer looks forward to seeing you instead of dreading it because you’re a royal pain in the ass.
Go Where You’re Wanted
When it comes time to find an outfit to drive with, go where you’re welcome and appreciated. Seek out places that will value what you bring to the table as a driver and a woman. The more you value and respect yourself, the easier it will be for you to know when a company will do the same.
Some companies encourage and advocate for women drivers, find some of them and see if they are a good fit for you.
You’re a Sought After Commodity
According to the ATA, the industry is still short about 51,000 needed to handle the tonnage of goods shipped around this country every day. Truck drivers are required. So, when you’re looking for work, you are in the driver’s seat.
Make sure you know what you want from a company you drive for. Take time and find a place that will make you happy and where you can see yourself working for a while. Businesses like Pride Transport will be glad to sit down with you, answer your questions, and work with you to make sure you’re happy in the job.
It’s no longer a man’s world, and there are many women on the road, proving that every day. Join them and experience the kind of adventure your life may have been lacking.