Are you a female truck driver who is new to the trucking industry or someone who has worked in the industry for some time? In either case, you are likely aware of the tremendous opportunity that exists in this high-demand field. At the end of 2018, the American Trucking Associations found the industry was short over 60,000 drivers and warned the industry could be short over 100,000 in five years’ time.
Now is the perfect time to drive in the trucking industry. Many carriers are increasing pay and working to improve on the job conditions. Life as a female trucker offers independence, the ability to see new places, and flexibility.
Here, we’ll talk briefly about how women’s role in trucking has changed over time. Then, to help you be successful, we’ll share 15 tips to keep in mind as a female driver.
An Overview of Women in Trucking
Although women have been involved in trucking since the early 1900s, female truckers have always comprised a small percentage of the truck driving workforce. However, the number of women truckers is on the rise. Between 2010 and 2018, the number of female drivers increased by 68%.
As the current trucker shortage continues to grow, involving more females in the industry is imperative to help address the growing labor needs. Read our Women in Trucking blog post to learn more about how the role women play in the trucking industry has evolved and how to support women in trucking.
Everyday Tips for Female Truck Drivers
Although some of your everyday experiences will overlap with those of male drivers, certain experiences present unique challenges to women. Here are 5 tips to help improve your day-to-day.
1. Always Plan Your Route in Advance
Trip planning is an essential component of safe trucking. It not only saves you time down the line, but it can also help you avoid problems.
Take time to map out your route and plan scheduled stops for either bathroom breaks, meals, or rest.
2. Make Sure Your Cell Phone is Always Charged and Easily Accessible
When you’re out on the road, unexpected events can occur. Luckily, cell phones provide a way to keep you in touch with assistance, support, or even entertainment. Podcasts and audio books offer a fun way to pass the time mile after mile.
3. Prepare Comfortable Sleeping Quarters
Trucking is a demanding career that often requires long hours behind the wheel. Driving well-rested and alert is imperative for trucker safety and the safety of other drivers on the road.
Many long-distance female truck drivers sleep in the truck’s sleeper cab. By setting up a comfortable place to nap or get a full night of sleep, you better equip yourself for a less stressful day ahead.
Make your mattress as comfortable as possible by adding a mattress topper. Add pillows, sheets, and blankets that you prefer. Be sure your curtains fully cover any windows to keep light out and allow you a restful sleep.
4. Make Time for Your Hygiene
It can be challenging to pay attention to your hygiene when you cover a lot of territory, but taking care of yourself is important. Prioritize your self-care in easy ways that work for you.
Pack extra water for brushing your teeth on the road. Keep a generous supply of baby wipes available for times when running water isn’t available. Carry baby powder to avoid feeling sticky on days with high humidity.
5. Pack Adequate Supplies
Having the right supplies while you’re out on the road makes a tremendous difference to your day. Here are some suggestions for what to have on hand to make your trips more comfortable.
- Plenty of water – In addition to the water you intend to use, keep a reserve of enough bottled water to last you three to five days.
- Food – Pack your own meals if possible. Food on the road tends to be less healthy than is desirable. Keep a stash of snacks and other things like protein bars that will keep long-term in case you have an emergency far from any town.
- Baby wipes / wet wipes – Be sure you always have plenty of baby wipes in your cab. These come in handy when showers aren’t available, or you need to clean your face or hands throughout the day. Wipes are also useful for cleaning off cutlery or plates for meals on the road.
- Extra clothes – Pack extra clothes in case you need to change more times than expected.
- Female urinal – This is a must-have for times when a public toilet is not available, which may be often depending on your route.
- Portable toilet – Purchase a portable toilet to use when a bathroom is not available, or it’s the middle of the night and leaving the cab is not advised. These toilets are designed to hold odors well so that you can remain comfortable in your cab until you can release the contents.
Career Tips for Female Truck Drivers
There are several career paths available for female truck drivers. From driving to logistics, management, and fleet ownership, the trucking industry offers a wide range of opportunities. Here are 5 tips to help you throughout your career in the industry.
1. Choose a Fleet That Shares Your Values
Every fleet is different and while many fleets hire female truck drivers, some fleets do a better job of supporting, growing, and promoting female truckers. Find a fleet that demonstrates they care about, and actively support, both safe trucking and women in trucking.
Before accepting a position on any fleet, get to know the company’s culture. Do the values and priorities align with your own? To be successful in a male-dominated field, it’s important that your carrier offers you a sense of belonging and plays an active role in your growth.
2. Always Know Your Worth
Just like with any career, making sure you are compensated accurately for the value you bring to a company is important. Before accepting a job or during salary negotiations, compare compensation amounts for someone with your experience level. Keep in mind that your state of residence, type of truck, and the material you haul will all affect your earnings.
3. Join Women Trucking Organizations
Become part of an organization that works to encourage and empower women truckers. There’s no reason why you need to feel alone. Instead, get involved with groups like the Women In Trucking Association. This non-profit works to minimize obstacles women face in the trucking industry and encourage the employment of women.
4. Connect with Other Truck Drivers
Meeting and connecting with other truck drivers, both male and female truckers, is important whether you’re new to truck driving or have years of experience. Networking with other drivers may also result in hearing about new opportunities.
Find someone who can mentor you and help you grow. Forge friendships and cheer each other on. Having a community of truck drivers benefits everyone.
5. Establish Strong Lines of Communication with Your Leader
Open communication is key to building a good working relationship with your Driver Training Leader (DTL) or supervisor. When your supervisor knows you, it helps ensure your route assignments match your comfort level. Knowing you can always reach out to your leader also helps you feel safer when you’re out on the road in your truck.
Safety Tips for Female Truck Drivers
Truck driver safety is an important aspect of this occupation, and it is especially important for female truck drivers. Although many truck stops have well-lit lots and security on the premises at all hours, it is always important to take precautions. Here are 5 tips to help keep you safe and at ease.
1. Stay Alert
Remember to always remain aware of your surroundings. Avoid wearing headphones or getting distracted with a call on your cell phone or other preoccupations. Stay alert and tune into your instincts.
If something seems unusual or makes you feel uneasy, listen to that feeling and get to safety. In certain cases, you may need to call the authorities.
2. Carry a Whistle, Small Air Horn, or Other Protective Equipment
As a female truck driver, carrying a loud whistle, compact air horn, or even hair spray may be a good idea. Whistles and air horns help draw attention to you if someone threatening approaches so that a bystander can help.
In more extreme situations, hair spray can work as a deterrent. It prevents someone from approaching too close or slows them down to allow you to get away.
3. Always Park in Secure, Well-Lit Areas
Be smart about where you park. Always avoid the back of the truck stop or secluded areas. Instead, find a well-lit parking spot where your truck is easy to see and close to other trucks.
4. If Possible, Take a Self-Defense Class
Self-defense classes are an excellent way to protect your safety and boost your confidence while driving on the road alone. Some carriers may provide self-defense classes to their drivers, but others may not.
This investment can make a big difference in how safe and assured you feel as a female truck driver.
5. Ensure Your Truck is Always Secure
Remember to lock your truck doors and roll up your windows whenever you get out and walk away from your truck. If possible, try not to ever exit your vehicle at night.
While inside the truck after dark or when resting, keep doors locked and windows closed. Be sure you also close your curtains to prevent anyone from seeing that you are a female trucker alone in the cab.
3 Key Takeaways for New & Experienced Female Truck Drivers
Being a female trucker may feel challenging at times, but it can also be highly rewarding.
- Remember to take the time to plan and pack adequate supplies to ensure you set yourself up for success.
- Connect with other drivers on the road and through women in trucking organizations to ensure you feel supported.
- And always take the necessary preventative actions to promote your safety.
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Visit one of our convenient locations and discover why Hale Trailer is the preferred shop for truckers.
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