“You’ll never, ever lay your hands on that truck.” – Flatbed Annie & Sweetiepie (1979)
Whenever someone mentions female truck drivers, I immediately think about that quote from Flatbed Annie & Sweetiepie movie and I am sure that if you too have seen that movie, you will remember that quote very well.
By the time this movie was made, the idea of women working as truck drivers was still not popular. Even today, a lot of people still think that being a truck driver is a man’s job and ladies should stay home taking care of the kids, far away from the road. In an article by Troy Wallace about Women’s Role in the Trucking History, Katy Lynn, a truck operator said: “ Every man I’ve come across has had a slightly different attitude toward my driving. Overall, I think most men could care less one way or another as long as I don’t get in their way. But, then again, there are the few men that will immediately confront me about driving and tell me the usual, ‘You should be at home in the kitchen with kids. This is a man’s world and a man’s job.’ But these men have really been few and far between so far.” If you like movies about truck drivers check out our list here.
Compared to at least 50 years ago, things have changed a lot. More and more women are joining the trucking industry and facts show that women not only can be a very good truck drivers, just like their male counterpart, but they can even be better truck drivers than many of the men in the trucking industry.
A study by the Women in Trucking Association, which measured both male and female truck drivers’ behavioral styles, found out that both genders had a lot of patience and conformity – necessary traits in this profession. Females can be great truckers too, since they, just like men, scored highest in patience and conformity, two traits that are very important for every truck driver out there that has a long road ahead and a great responsibility over his or her shoulders. Interestingly enough, some recent studies have found out that female truck drivers compared to male truckers, are as much as 3 times less likely to get involved in a car crash and follow the rules more rigorously than men. In fact, women are 5 times less likely to violate safety regulations and are more intuitive and concentrated on the road in general.
The first female trucker
Lillie Elizabeth Drennan (1897-1974) was the first licensed female truck driver in the United States. She received her commercial drivers’ license (CDL) classification in 1929 and was also the first woman to own a trucking firm. After divorcing her husband, she remained the sole owner of Drennan Truck Line in Texas. According to Team Run Smart, “when Lillie drove her first open cab Model T Ford, the job was physically demanding. In addition to general freight, she hauled oilfield equipment and explosives, sometimes for 48 hours at a stretch. Today’s cabs are more comfortable and ergonomic and the driver doesn’t always handle the freight. No one drives for 48 hours at a time these days and carriers are looking at the driver more as a partner than a means for capacity.”
Today in the U.S. there are over 200,000 female truck drivers of the total number of 8 million CDL licensed drivers. The number of female truck drivers entering the trucking industry has increased by 50% since 2005 when there were only 133,000 female truckers. While in 2000, only 4.7% were part of the trucking industry.
Why do women chose to be truck drivers?
Most women chose to become truck drivers before or after they have kids. In many cases, women chose this profession after they go through a divorce or if their husband is a truck driver, or part of the trucking industry in any aspect.
Here are some other reasons why women chose to be truck drivers:
- Open road
Yet another movie quote that comes to my mind is from Keith (2008): “What’s the rush? We’re here in a yellow truck, a road ahead of us and nothing but opportunities.” Many women, just like Keith, love being on the open road and trucking industry provides just that to them. Every day is different and comes with new experiences and opportunities.
- Flexible schedules
Trucking industry schedules can be pretty flexible most of the time, and if a woman is not married or has kids, the schedules can be even more flexible for them.
- Competitive salaries and plenty of job opportunities
In the United States, especially in California, there is a hunger for truck drivers. Because of this many companies are starting to provide better job opportunities and plenty of benefits for female truckers and veterans as well. It is not like it used to be several decades ago when trucking companies preferred to hire only men. Trucking companies are in need for truckers. Women as have the qualities and experience needed to fill those empty spots and they can get the job done just as men can. Depending on their experience, truck drivers can earn from $25,000 to $70,000 and even more in some cases. Women nowadays can earn up to 20-30 % more as truck drivers compared to other careers they would usually enter into which makes the position as truck driver even more attractive to them. More and more women are also getting hired in other positions in the trucking industry such as management, recruiting and dispatching.
I cannot imagine any other profession that offers the same amount of freedom as trucking does. What more can you ask for if you love to be on the open road, enjoying the countryside views and having plenty of time to think and reflect about your life in general while on the road. Most women and man who choose this profession are in love with their job, and for them, being a truck driver is not a job, it is a lyfestyle. For them driving their truck and being for long hours on the road is their definition of freedom.
If you think of any other reason why women choose this profession, please share with us in the comments. Also, if you are a truck driver, please share your views and story! Additionally, you can check out our guide on the best truck stops in the US. Thanks!