Women Will Save Trucking
Exploding demand for truck drivers has further underscored the importance of recruiting both males and females of all ages into the industry. Thanks to technological advances and improvements in modern machinery, becoming an over the road (OTR) trucker is an increasingly attractive profession. By reading the following information you’ll get a better understanding of the trucking industry as a whole, as well as from the perspective of one of our own drivers, Jennifer Rodgers.
Some women worry that they’re underqualified to be a truck driver, which is unfortunate in many respects. Physical attributes (height/weight/strength) are generally not an issue; so long as you’re able-bodied you’re good to go.
TanTara’s Minimum Driver Requirements are:
- Clean driving record with respect to accidents and traffic violations
- Must meet all D.O.T. requirements
- Must possess a positive attitude and customer service skills
Drivers have a wide range of experience prior to joining the industry. Jennifer started out as a bus driver which allowed her to pile up many hours behind the wheel, in turn building her confidence on the road. She was also driven enough to pursue experience behind the wheel of a semi and obtaining a CDL. Although Jennifer came to TanTara with experience driving semi-trucks, many drivers start out with no experience at all. Luckily, companies such as TanTara invest in their employees and provide high-quality training.
How Long Are You Away?
This is highly dependent on where you work and the type of hauling you’re doing. Jennifer runs a dedicated route which means she’s able to make it home at a fairly-consistent time each day. This schedule allows her to spend quality time with her family, which includes children that are 11 and 14 years old. There are also drivers that choose over the road driving and are typically only home a few days of the month. Your preference is the overall determining factor.
When Jennifer started out she knew she would have to sacrifice time at home, just as you’d expect at any job, to establish herself within the company and earn a more suitable schedule. Similar to their male counterparts, women with grown children, single women, and entrepreneurs looking to take on owner-operator roles are a good fit for a career within the logistics industry. However, Jennifer should serve as a prime example of the ability to have a young family and a career you’re passionate about.
The Benefits Package
Working within the trucking industry is no different than working in an office or factory, in that the majority of employers will offer a competitive benefits package. TanTara’s benefits package may include some or all of the following:
- All miles paid, both loaded and empty
- Highly competitive loading, unloading, and stop pay rates with every load and every stop
- Detention pay as tendered through the customer
- Performance & safety bonus
- Referral bonus
- Paid holidays
- Paid vacation
- Health (Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield), dental, and life insurance
- 401 (k) with company match
- Earned bi-annual pay raises
- Direct deposit
- Excellent home time (potential to be home every weekend)
- In-house maintenance shop
- Regional and national lanes
- No Hazmat required
- Reliable equipment
- Flatbeds and Conestoga trailers
- Family atmosphere
Interested in women-specific trucking articles? Check out Women In Trucking.
Trucking and logistics requires a lot of planning, foresight, and problem-solving on the fly which makes it an exciting occupation to be in. TanTara is well known for hiring great drivers who take excellent care of the fleet equipment. Drivers are responsible for keeping equipment in good condition whether that means reporting any mechanical issues, structural damage, or simply keeping everything clean. Getting a truck to the shop is the responsibility of the driver; however, when it comes to A-B service and repairs, we rely on a well-rounded team of TanTara diesel technicians.
Although drivers aren’t typically required to fix the equipment they’re driving it’s still a good idea to know as much as possible about how it operates. Time is money when driving truck which makes mechanical knowledge a huge asset. If a driver is able to handle a quick-fix on their own while on the road, they won’t have to wait (sometimes hours) for help to arrive. The ability to problem-solve and fix small issues will also help you get home on time. Knowing the proper way to change lights on a truck, de-ice brakes, adjust brakes, or even air up tires can go a long way. Aside from keeping you from being stranded, learning all you can about the commercial vehicle you are driving becomes a point of pride knowing that you can identify issues and potentially fix them yourself. Jennifer takes every opportunity she can to chat with fellow drivers about problems their equipment has had, how they diagnosed it, and how to perform the repair. Being able to communicate mechanical issues to TanTara’s Diesel Technicians effectively is very important to her, so constantly learning about her truck remains a priority.
A Changed Culture
The trucking industry has undergone a cultural shift in the recent past and has continued to move away from being a male-dominated profession. Entrepreneurial owner-operator women have been continually shifting the numbers as well as husband and wife driving teams. This industry was historically perceived as a strenuous one which was beyond the comfort zone of women. As time passed training practices improved, recruitment efforts widened, and technology evolved which led the trucking industry to became less dogged by the perception of a male-dominated workforce. Make no mistake, individuals who seriously consider a career in trucking are dedicated individuals looking for a challenge and this industry will undoubtedly provide it for them.
In her time behind the wheel, Jennifer has experienced the good and bad parts of driving truck. She has worked for employers that didn’t value her professionalism and passed over her for promotions and some that rewarded employees based purely on merit. One thing she has noticed during her 16 years as a commercial driver is the importance of relationship building. The majority of her interactions with fellow drivers have been positive, and predictively, there’ve been the jerks everyone avoids. Talking politics, family life, industry news, or anything in-between allows drivers to pass the time and make new friends. Having close friends within the industry is very important because at some point you or they will need a hand, and short on other people to turn to. Being friendly to people pays off when you need advice, have an emergency, or just need someone to help keep you alert by talking while driving.
Over the road (OTR) travel can turn dangerous for men and women alike unless rigorous planning and forethought are put into each trip. It’s common practice for drivers to carry high-grade mace and other personal protection tools to ensure their own safety while on the road.
Jennifer has traveled with tools for protection at times, but she suggests there are a number of other measures that can be taken. Paying attention to rest-stops and gas stations if you’re on a round-trip is a good practice. By taking note of these stops, you’re able to plan out your return trip stops in advance. Stopping at as many gas stations as you can on a dedicated route during daylight hours helps you become familiar with the area and get to know the regulars/workers. This can come in handy if you run into trouble on your route, especially during the nighttime. Parking in well-lit areas, sleeping with your windows up, or even the use of triangles and road flares are common safety practices many drivers think about on a daily basis.
In the end, women and men interested in a trucking career overwhelmingly have one thing in common; personality type. People that are driven (no pun intended), independent, and enjoy the challenges of problem-solving are generally the ones that will be in the industry for years to come.
Contact TanTara today to learn more about how to become an elite woman driver of the trucking world!
Looking for more information and testimonials? Take a look at Real Women In Trucking.