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How Safe Do Female Drivers Feel On the Road?

In the commercial freight transportation business, there have never been greater prospects for women drivers. As a driver, you're a highway hero, a highway warrior who may feel free to travel yet has a certain objective in mind. There's no better way to get a taste of the nation while also satisfying your wanderlust. In today's market, the appropriate employer may provide you with a very profitable income, attractive perks, and job stability.

While professional truck driving may be a fulfilling and satisfying job for women, it is not without its risks and cons. In a male-dominated profession, ladies' primary concerns and issues revolve around safety and harassment.

The 2022 WIT Female Driver Safety and Harassment Study, a study project that WIT wants to execute regularly, was just released. The goal of this project was to give drivers a voice in matters of safety and harassment. This study initiative, which included an online poll, was carried out by MindShare Strategies, WIT's association management firm and publisher of Redefining the Road magazine. Female drivers responded to an online poll from July to September 2021, expressing their concerns about key issues. The findings are statistically valid since over 450 professional drivers responded to the poll. Around 47% work for for-hire motor carriers, 27% are owner-operators, and 11% work for a manufacturer, retailer, or distributor's fleet. This article focuses on a few of the most pressing issues.

What Are Women's Perceptions of Safety Behind the Wheel?

This is a crucial subject since it affects the industry's ability to attract and retain female drivers. The good news is that a majority of women believe trucking is a safe job for them. When asked whether trucking is a safe industry for women to work in, almost 54% strongly agreed or agreed. Surprisingly, a sizable portion of the population (28.5%) expressed no strong feelings about this impression. However, a sizable proportion of female truck drivers believe that trucking is not a safe business in which to work. Nearly one-fifth believe that trucking is a dangerous career for women.

Where do they see the greatest risk to female drivers' safety? As you would anticipate, the great majority of respondents (87%) believe truck stops are risky for women, while 85.5 percent believe rest areas are unsafe. Approximately 75% of respondents think the cab has a major risk of injury, while 74% say the shipper/receiver facility poses considerable risk of injury.

What Strategies Do You Use to Keep Yourself Safe?

There are several methods in which female drivers might reduce the risk of a traffic hazard. For practical advice, look at the sidebar on the following page. Formal training in self-defense for drivers may also help drivers improve their safety. In reality, around 25.5 percent of respondents had received some formal training in self-defense for drivers, albeit the industry needs to do more to prioritize safety training for female drivers.

What additional precautions should female drivers take to keep themselves safe behind the wheel? When you're outside your taxi, just pay attention and don't get sidetracked. Indeed, 96 percent of those polled said they pay careful attention to what's going on around them. When they stop at a truck stop or rest area, another 77 percent try to stay as close to illuminated areas as possible, while another 47 percent want to be as close to other people as feasible. Unsurprisingly, 44 percent have personal protection goods (such as mace or pepper sprays) on them, while another 26% have a handgun. Another 15% have a gadget, such as a rape whistle, that emits warning sounds in the event of an occurrence.

Female Driver Safety and Same-Gender Training: A Serious Problem

Currently, a newly recruited professional driver must spend time with a trainer to enhance (or prove) her driving abilities before being employed. The instructor keeps an eye on the trainee's driving skills and provides comments about his or her employability. This training session might last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, and one or both drivers may be required to sleep in the sleeper bunk. This is where a possible safety hazard may manifest.

"The close closeness of the sleeping berth and personal quarters creates an environment where privacy is often violated," explains Ellen Voie, President, and CEO of WIT. "In the vast majority of situations, the driving trainer and the trainee are unrelated and have never met." According to a new study published in The Sexual Project by Dr. Jennifer Hirsch and Dr. Claude Mellins, the closeness of a bed boosts sexual encounters in college dormitories.

"We haven't been able to find any other method of transportation that combines men and women in sleeping or personal activity rooms," Voie says. A trucking company is not authorized to separate truckers based on their age, ethnicity, gender, or any other protected characteristic."

In a case brought against a carrier in 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) concluded that the choice to adopt a same-gender training policy violated the EEOC. The EEOC concluded that the carrier discriminated against female truck driver candidates by placing them on a waiting list for female trainers, which typically resulted in a delay in hiring. In 2016, the airline was found to have engaged in discriminatory recruiting practices, according to the court.

It was demeaning to males, according to the EEOC attorney, to think that if they worked together in close quarters, they would harass women. The EEOC overlooked the fact that these drivers were obliged to sleep in close quarters as well.

WIT believes that carriers that decide on a same-gender training policy should have the option of using the Bona Fide Occupational Exemption. Employers are entitled to consider bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ) when recruiting and retaining workers. The qualification should be related to a critical work function and deemed required for the successful running of the company.

This is a critical situation. According to the WIT Driver Safety and Harassment study project, 42.5 percent of respondents know of a driver who has been harassed or assaulted as a consequence of sharing a taxi with a trainer of the opposing gender. Around 39% of respondents indicate their organization has a gender-neutral training program.

Given the continued critical shortage of truck drivers, this is one area where for-hire trucking businesses or private fleets might have a huge influence. 62.5 percent of respondents feel that a same-gender training program would inspire more women to seek a career as a professional driver.

6 Safety Tips for Women Truck Drivers

1. Make an informed decision about your employer or customer.

Only work with businesses that will treat you with respect (and your gender). The job with people who understand the special demands of women and working moms who are juggling work and family life.

2. Pay Attention to Your Environment.

When you're not in your vehicle, always be alert of what's going on around you. If possible, park in the first row of a truck stop or, if that is not possible, beneath a light. Also, have your phone and any other safety gear, such as a mace or a rape whistle, with you at all times.

3. Make sure you're outfitted properly.

Nothing is sure, even if you can predict the kind of weather you'll be traveling in. Keep the worst-case scenario in mind at all times. Raincoat, first-aid kit, work gloves, boots, and a torch or headlamp are all vital to having in your cab.

4. Keep your food on hand at all times.

While there are many alternatives for eating on the go, they aren't necessarily the greatest or healthiest. Many modern trucks are equipped with small refrigerators, making it simple to provide your nutritious food and avoid spoilage. Not only does this provide you with a better quality of life, but it also reduces the number of times you have to risk your safety by exiting your taxi.

5. Make bathroom stops a priority.

Plan restroom breaks as much as possible while planning your trip, and be aware of the finest motels with the greatest reputations along the way. Make sure your taxi has everything you need.

6. Discuss with other female drivers.

Finally, keep in touch with other women and share ideas for road safety. Make friends with your female coworkers and develop a connection with them. Visit the WIT website and social media pages for safety tips from other drivers, as well as practical guidance and best practices for being safe on the road.