Women In Trucking Blog

African-American Women Consider Trucking

By Ellen Voie, President/CEO, Women In Trucking Association

If you’ve ever attended Women In Trucking’s “Salute to Women Behind the Wheel” in Louisville, Kentucky, you’ll find the largest gathering of female professional drivers in the United States. These women come from all parts of the country, as well as Canada. Some are in their seventies; others are in their twenties. Some have been driving for decades, others are newcomers to the industry.

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Working Together Through Tough Times

Watching the news, I am reminded of the Vietnam War protests of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, also of the civil rights protests that occurred when I was young. People are angry and some carry that anger too far. This time, while African Americans are fine-tuning their civil rights, instead of only knowing what is going on through the television, radio, or newspapers, information and speculation is instantaneous through the Internet. Emotions run high on all sides … black, white, police, and yes, truckers. These emotions run the gamut from fear to anger to outright terror.

Reginald Denny was severely injured in the riots after the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles in 1992. Denny was a concrete hauler who took a shortcut through the riot area and subsequently was pulled from his truck and beaten. The memory of this long ago act has come to the forefront in the current protests in truckers’ minds, even though no truckers have been physically harmed currently as of yet. The recent misinformation has it that Denny had died in the attack. He did not, Denny lives and works in Arizona.

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Natural Anthropologists

Have you ever watched how people act when they are driving their cars? Many make one scratch their heads in wonder. With all the education one gains people watching, truck drivers could be considered anthropologists.

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The Missing Truck Driver Alert Network

Women In Trucking members Lee and Kari Fisher are owner operators. Kari is a wife/rider on the truck helping with all aspects of the job except for driving. A few years ago, a friend contacted Kari and told how her husband was missing on the road. Trying to help, Kari looked for anyone who assisted missing drivers’ families … there were none. Seeing a need and having the time available, Kari founded the Missing Truck Driver Alert Network (MTDN) in social media and online.

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Lifestyle Changes


Many women who enter trucking experience culture shock after they get on the road for the first time after school. Preconceived notions about trucking shatter as they realize the reality of the job and find that their lives change in many ways. Some adapt, some do not and quit before they get really started.

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Keeping the Changes Coming

When Ellen Voie founded the Women In Trucking Association back in 2007, I quickly joined becoming a charter member. Ellen taught me right off that growing an association takes time, but once that growth could get going strong, changes could be addressed. In the nine years I have been involved with the Women In Trucking Association, I have seen those changes occurring.

For many years, women truck drivers were the little known secret of trucking; we were not acknowledged as truckers often if at all. Companies, of course, liked women in teams, because of the extra revenue teams can generate. And some even said that women drivers were safer. But they did not go out of their way to hire us or to encourage us to apply. Women from trucking families or with friends that were truckers might have looked to trucking as a career, but few from the general public even considered becoming a truck driver; most would get this look of horror if one mentioned doing so.

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Jumpers and Other Horrors

People are despondent for many reasons: the economy is bad, a fight with a partner, perhaps someone has a major illness or is mentally ill. They decide to end their lives. Sadly, many think of doing it by truck. The latest reported at the time of this writing in April, 2016 is of a Pennsylvania man who had a fight with his partner, got in his car and found a trucker to run in to. Luckily, the local sheriff had been called to this man’s residence earlier that evening for a domestic dispute so the trucker was not charged.

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Image: Attitude or Appearance

There is a lot of talk about improving truck drivers’ image. Years ago, truckers were the knights of the road. These days they are considered everything from drug addicts to serial killers. Can that image be improved by truckers just dressing better or showering more or is it going to take an attitude adjustment?

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Helpmates: The Unsung Women In Trucking

We often hear of women who drive, fix, or manage trucks, however, there is a segment that is rarely mentioned, and at times is looked down upon. These are the wives and girlfriends who ride with their partners, but do not drive. Helpmates are a valuable part of trucking. They keep their driver company, assist in a hundred ways on the truck, and sometimes get involved in the trucking industry outside of the truck.

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Five-Point Checklist for Aspiring Expediters

You’re considering becoming an expediter to be your own boss, set your own schedule, see the country. Or, perhaps, you even dream of owning your own fleet of trucks in the future.

Whatever your ambitions, the expedite business is just that — a business — and that involves both risks and rewards.

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Being the supervisor of the Women In Trucking Association, Inc. Facebook Group, a writer, and a truck driver, I tend to spend quite a bit of time on the FMCSA website looking up answers to questions from the group, doing research for articles, and to make sure I am right in doing my job as a driver. Trying to make sense of some of the regulations on the FMCSA website can make one’s eyes cross and mind boggle. Thankfully, on most of the more complex regulations, there is ‘Guidance.’

Guidance is answers to questions sent in to the FMCSA by drivers and companies for clarification on a specific regulation. If you go to a specific regulation, under what the regulation is about, the title, in brown there will be section and guidance next to it. Click on guidance and a world of information opens up. For instance, under Drug and Alcohol Testing it will look like this:

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At times it seems that truck drivers are thought of as little more than robots sitting in the seat. We are expected to perform our duties no matter what the weather, how we are feeling, or whether there is actually time to do the job safely. While this can affect both genders of drivers, women drivers tend to feel the stress and loss of humanity a bit more than the men do. For some, this can lead to depression and loss of self-identity.

These feelings are hard to deal with. Depression can lead to feeling inadequate, distract you from what is really important, and eventually, if left unaddressed, can change your attitude from positive to negative. Depression may further isolate you, which intensifies the loneliness of the road. You may also develop paranoia and think that others are against you or talking about you behind your back.

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Denied Access

At one time or another any trucker may end up having to pick up or deliver at a high security facility; requirements vary as to the type of facility. For instance, to enter a nuclear facility, a trucker’s company will usually have to send in a copy of the driver’s CDL prior to delivery. If this is not done or the facility has not received it, access will be denied until they do get it and can run it through security.

I routinely deliver to an ammunitions plant run by the United States Army. Upon arrival, I have to report to the visitor’s center and present my bills and my CDL. Since I have been there previously, I am in their system so it does not take long; however, the first time took about ten minutes for them to check my name against the terrorist watch list and wants and warrants list. Anyone found on the terrorist watch list or is a wanted felon will be denied access.

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Critters … In Your Fuel

Your truck is not running well, power is off, it is not idling smoothly, you are clogging fuel filters? What is wrong? It could be critters in your fuel. What, you ask, critters in diesel fuel? How can that be?

Algae in the fuel and other microbes have been a problem for decades, though rarer than in today’s trucking world. In the past, sulfur, naturally occurring in diesel fuel, kept the critters at bay. It is thought by experts that the ultra-low sulfur fuel sold today encourages the growth of algae and other microbes in fuel systems.

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Having beautiful hair and nails while driving a truck can present many challenges, starting off mainly with lack of time. Many give up makeup when they become drivers. However, there are ways of wearing makeup and keeping one’s hair and nails beautiful by women truck drivers that do not require a large amount of time.

Cindy Kaps

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Truck drivers are a sub-culture to normal society. We have our own language, we do not work nor live to the same schedules as folks who stay at home, and we live in the public eye. One of the most difficult things a new driver faces is adapting to the lifestyle of trucking.

Individuals entering trucking have culture shock, as they may not be able to shower every day, and do not have the luxuries of being able to access facilities at home or at times anywhere, every time they are needed. The new driver hears other truckers speaking and do not know what a ‘binder’ is or some other word or term that they have never heard before. Or that it is hard to live in an eight by eight box 24/7. Probably the hardest to deal with is the loneliness as they adjust to being away from friends and loved ones, some for the first time in their life.

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