Few female truck drivers today
Truck driving isn’t typically considered a female-friendly occupation. While the US workforce is split almost evenly down gender lines, currently only about 6% of truck drivers are women. That’s a number that’s remained relatively steady for the past 15 years, and the industry is beginning to look at ways to accommodate more female truck drivers in the workforce.
Female drivers have fewer accidents
Female truck drivers operate under the same rules that male drivers do, but female drivers may offer some statistical advantages when it comes to highway driving. Women tend to take fewer risks than men do when driving and tend to drive more slowly in risky driving situations, so the accident rate among female drivers is about half that of male drivers, and the amount of damage to equipment tends to be lower.
Equipment not designed for females
What keeps women out of the driver’s seat? Physical size is one issue, though many drivers say physical strength isn’t a requirement for most commercial trucking jobs. The average male truck driver is nearly 6 feet tall, while the average female driver stands at just 5’4″. Weight is another consideration. The average male driver weighs nearly 215 pounds, compared to the average female, who tips the scales at just 160. The overwhelming predominance of male drivers in commercial trucks is reflected in the cab design. Generally, commercial trucks are designed for taller, heavier drivers. Using current design standards, shorter, lighter drivers may have difficulty with basic things like reaching all of the controls or properly adjusting the driver’s seat.
Read More: Retired truck drivers await pension fate
Non-traditional schedule is tough to manage
The typical commercial truck driving schedule may also prove to be challenging for women with children. Often, commercial truck drivers may spend as much as three-fourths of the year on the road, a situation that’s not conducive to raising families. Truck driving may have more appeal to women who do not have children, or whose children are grown. Currently, most women who enter the truck driving industry do so between the ages of 40 and 60.
Truck driving is risky occupation
Truck driving is inherently risky. In fact, it currently occupies spot number 8 on the list of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States, charting nearly 25 deaths per 100,000 workers annually. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, traffic fatalities account for the majority of work-related deaths among truck drivers. Generally, women tend to take fewer risks, so they may be less attracted to riskier occupations, including truck driving.
Few women in transportation industry
Another factor that may keep women out of the driver’s seat is the lack of women in the transportation industry. Across all positions, women are characteristically absent. That means fewer women drive trucks, but also fewer women occupy managerial and administrative positions in the industry. The absence of women in the industry tends to be self-perpetuating. Placing more women in managerial positions may lead to an increase of women on the front lines of the truck driving industry.
Many women who enter the field do so as part of a husband-and-wife team, or as part of a family business. Some trucking companies actively recruit female drivers and attempt to make the industry as female-friendly as possible. Industry groups representing female drivers are also working with truck manufacturers to incorporate female-friendly design changes into cabs and trailers to make entry, exit and control easier for shorter, lighter weight drivers.
Photo Credit: Peterbilt