Stay Smart and Safe Ladies!
Hello, I've been a trucker for a little over 3 years now. I was trained to drive by my husband, who has been in the industry for over 20 years now.
I want to give some advice to the women who are contemplating getting into the trucking industry.
I got into trucking because I really love to drive! Although driving a car is VERY much different than driving a truck, for many obvious reasons! Since my husband taught me to drive a big rig, I still find driving enjoyable! Most days.
As much as I enjoy driving for a living, it has it's challenges! One of the biggest is being a woman driver in a "man's" industry. Some men don't bat an eye when they see a woman driver. But, there are men in the trucking industry who refuse to accept a woman as a driver.
Those men seem to make it their mission to belittle women drivers, insulting their intelligence, mocking their abilities as a driver, treating women as an object or target of sexual innuendos and harassment, and just making it almost impossible for a woman to do her job as a driver! Ignore those ignorant fools! Your concern is to get from point A to point B as safely and efficiently, as you are able to do! It is your responsibility as a driver, to do it safely!
Don't make it your mission as a woman driver, to "keep up with the boys"! Know your limits! Learn the road! Learn the traffic patterns. Learn the habits good and bad of the others on the road along side of you. Become comfortable with your truck, your destination, your job. Don't pay attention to the yahoo tailgating you, or running his mouth on the radio. If you let it get to you and if you react to it, you're not focused on your job. EVENTUALLY, YOU'LL MAKE A MISTAKE THAT COULD COST YOU YOUR JOB, YOUR LIFE, OR SOMEONE ELSE'S LIFE!!!
Shut the CB radio off if the conversation is upsetting you or distracting you. Look at the road in front of you...not the idiot tailgating you. Drive within your comfort limits!! YOURS, not the guy that's been doing it for 20+ years. It's not his CDL on the line if you make a mistake. IT'S YOUR CDL ON THE LINE.
For the most part, my experience as a woman driver has been good. There have been some incidents along the way that have opened my eyes to how dangerous this job can be if you aren't careful. Awareness and self control are a couple of the things that will help you succeed in this business.
Professionalism is a very important key to being a truck driver! How you dress, keep up on your personal hygiene, your attitude, care of your equipment and punctuality, all speak for you and the company you drive for, or are leased to, or if you have your own authority. If you don't act professionally, you will never be taken seriously or be treated respectfully!!
For all drivers, both men and women, it is your responsibility to be courteous, respectful, observant of your equipment and surroundings in and out of the truck, and to do the job you have been trained to do.
Knowledge of the job and the equipment you are running is also very important. Know your truck! Know your trailer! Do your pre-trip inspections everyday before leaving that truck stop or rest area. If you don't know how to do something, ask someone to tell you, or show you. It's your responsibility as a "driver", to get the job done. Your truck, your freight, your responsibility! If you don't know how to do something, learn!
Keep in mind, you're not the only driver on the road!! Look
around you! Watch the cars, motorcycles, and other truckers on the road with you! If you're driving that big truck down the road.....KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD. Not your phone, not the cows in the field, not your maps, your paperwork....THE ROAD.
If you need to find something on the map, or read over your paperwork, or whatever may distract you from paying attention to the road, find a safe place to pull over off of the road and take care of it then. Don't be the trucker they talk about in the news casts, that caused the 70 car/truck pile up on the interstate!!
I also want to talk about keeping yourself safe. I've seen a lot of women drivers in the short time I've been a truck driver. Most of the women I've seen, are very professional and work hard to do their jobs safely and efficiently. They keep a low profile and don't draw any unwanted attention to themselves. Learn to be self sufficient! Never assume there will be someone at your next stop to help you with something! Keeping a good attitude is also very important, like any job! First of all, self respect is key! Take care of yourself, respect yourself! Don't do this job LOOKING for respect! It's not going to happen!! You'll just end up hating yourself at the end of the day or getting hurt!
I've heard men drivers talk about some of the women drivers. Some men say that women want to drive because they are lonely or looking for some "action"!! Sadly, there are some women who live by that "code". So to put it bluntly, if you act like a tramp, you'll be treated like one! Act like a lady, and you'll be treated like a lady!
Don't get yourself into a situation you can't get yourself out of!
Depending on where you drive for your job, there are areas where it can be and ARE, very dangerous, especially for a woman!! Keep your head on! Pay attention to where you park your truck. Pay attention to who and what is around you when walking from your truck to a building and vice versa! Keep your doors locked on your truck....make a habit of doing it at all times. If someone approaches your truck, don't open the door. Roll the window down a few inches...that's sufficient for an audible conversation. Don't be afraid to tell someone to go away. This is your space, you're in control of it.
Make your space comfortable, not too much clutter, keep it clean. It really makes a difference on how you feel about your job if the inside of your truck is tidy and clean. Keep in mind when packing to go to work, the weight of the truck and the potential weight of the freight you may be hauling. It's easy to get carried away with packing your truck. Every item no matter how big or small, can really add on the weight!
You'll be dealing with a lot of different people in this industry. Different views, different beliefs, different cultures. You'll come across attitudes towards women drivers on and off the road. Don't let it get you down if you run across negativity. Don't take it personally! Ignore it! Hold your composure and keep your head up and remember to always be polite and smile no matter what negativity you are faced with! It will happen, it does happen! I never leave a shipping/receiving office without telling the person I dealt with, to have a good day! Their behavior, good or bad, is on them. As well as your behavior, good or bad, is on you! Don't let your day end in regret! This is the job you chose....learn from it, respect it, enjoy it, OWN IT!