The heavy haul industry is a traditionally male-dominated field, but more women are becoming interested in heavy hauling as a career. This change comes at an opportune time for heavy haul industry companies because the driver shortage that began with the economic downturn still continues today. We’ve dedicated today’s post to showcasing the women who are helping end the driver shortage and encouraging anyone who might want to enter heavy hauling.
Why Is There a Heavy Haul Driver Shortage?
There are many reasons for the current driver shortage, and they vary based on where you work. Some key reasons, though, exist across the board. Heavy haul transport is physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. Drivers are expected to complete eight-day workweeks before taking a mandatory 34 hours off, which means technicians, dispatchers, and safety officials must be on call, as well. This accounts for the heavy turnover in many hauling companies.
Drivers are often unsatisfied with their pay, as well. For example, some drivers are paid by the mile, while others are paid by the hour. The pay structure can be confusing and may change with little notice. Additionally, it can take time to build seniority and a larger paycheck – time some drivers don’t feel they have. Finally, more companies are hiring drivers without commercial drivers’ licenses (CDLs) or commercial permits. This adds to expenses, training hours, and safety concerns.
How Can Women Enter the Industry?
You might think a driver shortage could be solved if more drivers of either gender were hired. Why are women needed in particular? Experienced truckers reveal several reasons. President and CEO of the Women in Trucking Association, Ellen Voie projects the heavy haul industry could bring in 30,000 more drivers if the percentage of women in trucking was raised from 1% to 6%. However, this increase will require some changes from heavy hauling companies.
Voie says many heavy haul trucking companies are “still handing out big belt buckles for safe driving awards” and expecting women to fit into men’s uniform shirts because those are the only uniform shirts they carry. Voie also recommends redesigning cabs so women are more comfortable. The Women in Trucking Association currently offers scholarship and mentorship programs to prospective female drivers.