As the trucking industry scrambles to fill empty truck driver seats, more and more female truck drivers are hitting the highways.
But while this growing workforce of female truckers is a welcome addition to trucking, there is one looming barrier that trucking companies must address—safety.
Safety, by its very nature, is a priority for truckers.
As a truck driver, you might mitigate safety risks by taking a truck driver safety course, adhering to hours-of-service regulations, taking regular breaks, and performing truck maintenance.
For female truck drivers, however, there are additional safety risks that must be addressed.
Traditionally, trucking has been male-dominated due to the nature of its physical demands.
In recent decades of the 21st century, trucking companies have made significant progress in diversifying the truck driver workforce.
According to the Women in Trucking (WIT) Index, there has been a three percent increase in female drivers since 2019, and comprising about 14% in North America alone.
In Canada and other parts of the world, women make up at least 3% of the professional truck driving workforce and a higher percentage in leadership roles.
These recent figures are encouraging for those who advocate for inclusivity within the transportation sector.
But, as essential members of a competitive industry, how are women safe on the road and in their workplace? Are companies and organizations taking preventive measures to ensure the security of their drivers?
A Tough Journey
In November 2022, safety was a topic of conversation during the kick-off meeting of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) under their new charter, the Women of Trucking Advisory Board (WOTAB). A higher recruitment rate of women would be likely when they feel protected in their environment.
How trucking companies can protect and accommodate their female truck drivers is a hot-button issue for trucking executives and safety personnel.
Here are some of the top concerns female truckers face on the road.
1. Workplace Harassment and Discrimination
In the survey conducted by FMCSA in the WOTAB meeting, about 55% reported harassment, assault, and threats, while 42% did not. Further survey results included not only women but also minority males and people identifying as other genders.
2. Work-Life Balance
With hours on the road sometimes stretching into late nights and early mornings, truckers often feel they have no control over their personal life.
3. Truck Design
A truck’s size, pedal placement, and truck cab height can pose a safety risk for truckers, particularly for female truck drivers as they may have to climb up and down the truck multiple times in a shift, leading to potential injuries.
Safety Is Always Road-Worthy
Extra precaution and vigilance on the part of truck drivers, trucking companies, and the trucking industry can help ensure female truckers are safe on their routes.
Ensuring the goods they transport and services they provide are equally important to your safety and protection.
Safety Tips for Women Truck Drivers
1. Plan Ahead
Map out truck routes before setting off. This means planning your bathroom breaks, truck stops, and overnight stays. When stopping at a rest area, you should try and find one that is well-lit and has other people around – preferably in view from inside the cab – so that you can feel safer while trucking.
2. Request Safety Training
If you don’t already have truck driver safety training, request it from your employer. Completing a truck driver safety course can help you understand the risks and dangers associated with trucking and provide tips on how to stay safe while driving.
A safety course may include truck driver safety skills such as defensive driving, blind spot awareness, and truck backing techniques.
3. Stay Alert
Awareness is key to truck driver safety. Be sure to stay aware of the traffic around you and your blind spots, especially when switching lanes or merging.
4. Know Your Truck
Whether it’s a truck or bus, know the size and weight of your vehicle before you drive. Knowing the truck’s limits helps to prevent accidents and can help prevent excessive truck wear and tear.
5. Keep Doors Locked
Your first line of truck driver safety defence is to keep truck doors locked when stationary and when moving. This will help to secure the truck from intruders and potential theft.
6. Keep Emergency Supplies
Every driver needs certain items in case anything happens while on the road – like flares, first aid kits, tools, flashlights etc. But female truckers, in particular, might want to carry additional emergency supplies like pepper spray or personal defence devices just in case you encounter a dangerous situation.
7. Trust Your Instincts
Be wary of red flags like warning signs when it comes to potential danger. If you feel uncomfortable with a situation or location, move away immediately or call for help if necessary.
Staying Safe on the Road
Organizations such as Women in Trucking (WIT) have initiated campaigns like ‘Share the Road,’ which focuses on raising awareness about issues faced by female truckers.
We’re finally seeing truck safety being taken seriously, but there is still more that can be done.
With truck driver safety courses and the tips mentioned here, female truckers can be more confident in their ability to truck safely and be empowered to make trucking their career.
And with trucking becoming more gender-inclusive, truck driver safety is something that everyone should be aware of. Together, truckers can help create a safe trucking environment for all.
Interested in truck driver safety courses? At Gennaro Transport Training, we take truck driver safety seriously and offer a Professional Driver Improvement Course (PDIC) along with a range of other truck driving training classes. We want you to continuously enhance your truck driver safety skills and be best-in-class on the road. Contact us today to find out more!