By John Kearney
According to a recent study by the Women in Trucking Association, women made up more than 10% of over-the-road U.S. truck drivers in 2019, an increase of nearly 30% over the 7.89% reported a year earlier. As they launch and grow their careers, these truckers are leveraging the power of social media to spread the word to other women seeking opportunity in trucking.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Clarissa Rankin, for example, has nearly a million TikTok followers, who travel with her as she explains the pluses and minuses of her industry. This social-media activity should greatly help bring a significant increase in new much-needed women truck drivers.”
One of the messages social-media-active women truckers constantly emphasize is the amount of opportunity open to new drivers. Trucking is one of the top-paying career positions open to applicants without a college degree, and the industry is desperate for new blood. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the industry needs 65,700 more drivers than it has now, and that the shortage is increasing.
One benefit of having women as a higher percentage of the trucking workforce will be safer highways. In a ten-year analysis of traffic fatalities in Great Britain, researchers found that compared with women, male drivers of all categories had twice the number of fatal accidents per mile driven. Male truck drivers had about four times the fatal accident rate of women truckers.
As part of an industry wide effort to increase safety, commercial-license driving schools—private schools, high schools, commercial colleges, tech schools, etc.—are increasingly using virtual-reality simulators to train truck drivers. Simulator technology is particularly attractive to women students, both for its effectiveness in preparing them to respond properly to dangerous situations and as an effective way to minimize the need for protracted on-on-one on-the-road training.
The real deal
Women trucker TikTok influencers, by the way, talk to their followers not only about career opportunities and highway safety, but about the realities of sexism, sexual harassment, personal safety, on-the-road hygiene, and an overall lifestyle associated with poor health. These issues are real, but the overwhelming message from the influencers is that they can be dealt with—and here’s how.
In the process of demystifying trucking, influencers are changing the motor freight industry itself. Women need good jobs, and the nation needs good truckers. The interaction between these TikTok influencers and their followers is a wonderful example of how a great, essential industry of today can become an even better industry for tomorrow.
For More Information
Advanced Training Systems has revolutionized the design and manufacture of high-tech simulators to improve driver training and create both better drivers and a safer world. In addition to hundreds of driving schools, we provide equipment and support for major shippers who do their own training, as well as customized solutions for those with particular training needs. For more information or to schedule a demo, please contact us here.