A new survey reveals dangers drivers face—and it has nothing to do with what happens on the road.
The survey, conducted in 2021 by the Women in Trucking (WIT) association, asked professional truck drivers about driver safety and harassment, specifically toward women.
Slightly more than half (54%) of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the North American trucking industry is safe for female drivers. Eighteen percent disagreed or strongly disagreed, and 28.5% had no strong opinion.
The survey asked respondents to share the locations where they perceived the most significant safety threat to female drivers. Those included:
- truck stops (87%),
- rest stops (85.5%),
- cab of their truck (75%) and
- shipper/receiver facility registers (74%).
One in four respondents (25.5%) reported having some formal training in self-defense, though WIT says the industry needs to prioritize safety training for female drivers.
One particular safety concern is part of the driver training process, during which newly hired drivers are paired with a trainer or experienced driver to help them improve their driving skills before employment is secured. This process ranges from a few days to a few weeks and requires extended close proximity. Forty-two percent of respondents say they are aware of a driver who has experienced harassment or assault as a result of sharing a cab with an opposite gender trainer.
“The proximity of the sleeper berth and personal quarters creates an atmosphere where privacy is often compromised,” said Ellen Voie, WIT President and CEO in the article. “In most cases, the driver trainer and trainee are unrelated and often previously unfamiliar with one another.
“We have not been able to identify any other mode of transportation that mixes men and women in areas intended for sleeping or personal activity. In trucking, a carrier is not allowed to use age, ethnicity, gender or other protected classification to segregate drivers.”
In 2016, a court ruled that the adoption of a same-gender training policy was a violation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. However, 62.5% of survey respondents believe that a same-gender training program would encourage more women to pursue a career as a professional driver.
WIT and its management company and publisher MindShare Strategies conducted an online survey from July through September 2021. Nearly 450 professional drivers responded. Of them, about 47% work for for-hire motor carriers, 27% are owner-operators and 11% drive for a private fleet of a manufacturer, retailer or distributor.
WIT offers tips for female truck drivers safety, including bringing your own food and planning bathroom breaks to minimize the number of times female drivers have to get out of the cab and stop at facilities with the best reputations.
Read the full article in the Fall 2021 edition of WIT’s magazine, Redefining the Road, available for free download here.