Hiring female truckers may help solve the driver shortage
By: Phil Sneed
The recent jobs report released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated truck drivers are being hired in increasing numbers. However, those employment gains are still not enough to even out the current shortage of drivers within the industry. The American Trucking Associations said there is a shortage of approximately 35,000 to 40,000 drivers in the nation. This puts a severe strain on hauling capacity.
According to the 26th annual State of Logistics Report from Penske Logistics, the driver shortage means truck capacity grew extremely tight. Large carriers are seemingly not as affected by the shortage as smaller carriers. This creates a tricky situation for logistics management firms, as they need to account for these shortages without creating shipping delays.
However, relief may be near. This solution might be in plain sight.
The trucking industry may alleviate driver shortages by hiring more women. The BLS reports only 5.8 percent of drivers were women in 2014. According to Fortune, construction and mechanical engineering positions have a higher percentage of female workers.
These companies, as well as women looking for driving opportunities, can utilize resources such as Women in Trucking. This organization serves as a way for women to connect with trucking companies, promote accomplishments and identify current issues women face on the road.
"Organizations exist to help more women become truck drivers."
Companies must make changes
If companies do increase female employment, they need to make some changes to operations and equipment. Policies should be implemented to protect female drivers from any type of harassment. When it comes to safety on the road, women already benefit from current security methods, according to Fortune contributor David Morris. Companies are increasingly building trucks with alarms to protect drivers as they sleep inside their vehicles, often at sparsely populated interstate stops.
Elsewhere, trucks will have to be outfitted with lower steps and accessible seats and pedals.
Why women are good hires
As with any other driver, female truckers are looking the opportunity for income. They can get that, plus flexibility and more advantages.
"If you want a low stress environment, not deal with any kind of drama, this is the place to be…To a certain degree you're your own boss," said Sylvia Chavez in an interview with Fortune.
Chavez also added that long existing perceptions of the trucking industry may be changing and more women feel comfortable driving. Women look to become drivers because some companies may offer shorter routes. This allows them still driver longer routes, but also incorporate shorter trips so they can visit family.
"Women can be their own bosses by driving a truck."
Safety is another concern for the industry, and it does not just pertain to women. In fact, the Transportation Research Board found in 2013 – their most recent study on the topic – that female commercial drivers are more cautious than their male counterparts.
It remains to be seen how much longer the trucking industry will be in the middle of a driver shortage. Female drivers can more than handle the duties of a truck driver.