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A Woman Trucker’s Take on the Driver Shortage

Part of a year-long WebXclusive series, “The Driver Dilemma,” Heavy Duty Trucking’s Deborah Lockridge profiles the female half of a Canadian husband-and-wife driving team who shares some interesting advice on  recruiting women drivers to deal with the driver shortage:

Amanda Jones has been on the road with husband Art Johansson for 13 years and driving for a little less than a year, so she’s got some interesting perspectives on what fleets can do to attract and keep drivers, especially female ones.

“I like traveling,” she explains. “I’m not very good at sitting home and doing nothing, and going to a factory job every day seems extremely mind numbing.”

Although she only got her CDL about a year ago, the two have been a team for 13, with Amanda handling paperwork, navigation, trip planning, border customs, dealing with dispatch and customers, and the like. The two work for a Canadian company, JBM Logistics, which has about 45 trucks and specializes in hauling to and from the U.S.

The relationship with the company has been good, she says – much better than another company they worked for. It means a lot to Art and Amanda that JBM cares about safety. “If there are problems with the truck, you just call them up and tell them,” she says. Contrast that to a previous company that pushed them to run overweight and over hours, they say. They happened upon JBM when Art’s truck was broken down and a JBM driver stopped to help.

Creature comforts are important, as well, she says. For instance, her company allows them to put in inverters to power TVs, refrigerators and microwave ovens as long as it doesn’t cause permanent damage to the truck.

“I know a lot of companies don’t allow you to put inverters in for safety reasons, fear of burning the truck down, but you get a mechanic to put it in instead of the driver himself. You can’t expect someone to be on the road all the time in truckstops eating fast food. We stock our fridge so we can eat in the truck or the truckstop.”

“This whole driver shortage thing drives me insane,” Amanda says. “I think there’s a shortage of drivers willing to put up with (crap).  If they paid for the time you actually put in … fleets wouldn’t have such a problem finding good drivers,” she says.

Of course that’s true whether you’re a man or woman driver. When asked about the specific challenges of being a female, Amanda said there are things that seem to bother some women drivers more than others.

One is the attention, often unwanted, that women drivers can attract at truckstops, shippers and the like.

Another issue is security. Amanda says she doesn’t feel particularly unsafe on the road, but she knows many women drivers who do.

That’s why she recommends that fleets interested in attracting more women allow pets. Pets can offer a sense of security as well as companionship.

Which brings us to (Amanda’s) Facebook page for their dog, The Trucking Titan . It started as a way for friends and family to keep up with what’s happening every day and write about the things that happen day to day that are interesting for non-trucking people. However, it’s not always interesting, she says, like waiting four hours at a customer. “That’s boring – but through the dog’s eyes, it’s acceptable for a dog to say it’s boring.”

Full story here.

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