PHOENIX, Ariz. — The organization Women in Trucking has been working to solve the nation’s truck-driver shortage and Volvo Trucks has joined the crusade. The U.S. currently has 3.2 million drivers and women only account for just over five percent of that amount. Ellen Voie, president of Women in Trucking, says the nation's driver shortage would be solved if the number of female truck-drivers even doubled to over 10 percent. While websites like TruckingUnlimited.com are constantly working to advertise the available truck-driving jobs, Women in Trucking is finding new ways of recruiting and manufacturers like Volvo are promoting more female friendly trucks.
Trucks used to be extremely difficult for women to handle, as they required drivers with the average strength and height of a full grown male. Now the driver’s seats and steering wheels of more contemporary trucks (like Volvo’s) are adaptable to anyone’s frame, male or female. Martin Bramsved, global manager Corporate Social Responsibility at Volvo Trucks says, “"Even if we don't employ drivers, we are still eventually dependent on truck transport that operates efficiently and effectively. This is why we are involving ourselves in social issues such as recruitment. As we see it, it's reasonable for the industry to extend its recruitment base and regard women as a natural part of it - especially as there is a shortage of drivers."
Currently Women in Trucking has about 2,000 members and is promoting a more female friendly trucking industry, spreading information to schools, government agencies, politicians, haulage companies and other transport companies. But in addition to fighting the stereotype of such a macho, male dominated industry, Voie sees the growing popularity of husband and wife truck-driving teams as the most natural way of women evolving into the industry.
Already, husband and wife truck-driving teams have become more favored by hiring employers. In an industry with a higher turnover due to long durations away from home, married couples are proving to be the ideal solution to all the problems long haul trips pose. One of the biggest problems in retaining long haul truck-drivers in general is the weeks they must spend alone on the road and for couples, team-driving not only allows a husband and wife to share a mobile home on the road, it allows them to travel the country together making the long-haul less lonely and more like a road-trip.
In addition to the better mileage and bigger profits for trucking companies and their drivers taking turns at the wheel, a husband and wife driving teams also save employers the logistical headaches of accommodating all male-driving teams with sleeping/living quarters. A growing number of fleets like Volvo are equipped for two with larger beds or double bunks, dual refrigerators, microwaves and additional cab space, but a couple sharing any type of living space is much more ideal.
So with trucks designed for anyone to take the wheel and living quarters that feel more like a motor home on a cross-country tour than a cramped cab on a long-haul, truck driving jobs are becoming a more appealing new career choice. For females, males, couples…all adventurous types.