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One Companies Solution to the Driver Shortage: Recruit More Woman


Even in a world full of female attorneys, physicians, and presidential candidates: the trucking industry is still viewed as a profession for men.   Trucking companies want to remove this thought process and the stereotypes that are keeping women from entering the world of commercial driving.  Today, a lower percentage of woman are behind the wheel of a truck then there are construction managers or mechanical engineers. 

When Gay Cooper first started driving trucks over a decade ago, she would have insults yelled at her such as: “Why don’t you go back to the kitchen where you belong?” There are many benefits for women who choose to break through the diesel ceiling and enter a life on the road.    To a certain degree you are your own boss and most of the time you don’t have to deal with any kind of cubical type drama.

A recent article on points out that Ryder Dedicated is working to change the current mindset in the industry and get more woman in the driver’s seat.  For a start, they are working with cab manufacturers in making trucks themselves more adaptable.  This means adjustable seats and pedals for shorter drivers, lower steps for accessing both cabs and freight, and automatic transmissions. The current driver population is now averaging 55 and it is believed that these improvements will also help accommodate an aging work force.

A shifting culture could have a big benefit in offsetting the current wage pressure on trucking companies. There could also be safety benefits: extensive research has shown that women are on average safer drivers than men.  However, the research also shows that woman are less likely to put on their seat belt.   The primary reason being physical discomfort.

The motivation for all of these improvements – Empty Trucks.  The president of Ryder Dedicated, says the decision to cater to women is “absolutely” a response to the driver shortage.  However, the program is still new and Ryder has the same number of female drivers as the industry average.

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Trucking companies constantly searching for new drivers

Brook Stockberger/

LAS CRUCES — Are you looking for work and have a fairly clean driving record and a clean bill of health? If you don’t mind the life of a professional truck driver, there are spots open. Many spots.
“The demand right now all over the country is through the roof,” said David Ortiz, administrative counselor with International Truck Driving School at Doña Ana Community College at 2345 E. Nevada Ave. “The oil fields are a big hiring place right now.”
Royal Jones, owner of Las Cruces-based Mesilla Valley Transportation which employs more than 1,400 drivers, said that his company is constantly on the lookout for drivers.
“In the last month we’ve hired 100 new drivers, but we lost 80,” he said.
The American Trucking Association reports that the driver shortage could reach 110,000 drivers by 2014.
“Long-term trends could cause the shortage to explode in the next decade,” reports.
David Mendez, 44, is a trucking student at DACC and said he hopes to find a job with one of the big trucking companies.
“There are more job opportunities,” he said when asked why he has turned to trucking.
“I’m looking for a better income,” said Justin Guiterez, 31. “As a single dad, I needed more (opportunity).”
Jones said that Mesilla Valley Transportation, which also operates a truck driving school, has seen older drivers and team drivers.
“A husband-and-wife team and go out and make 120,000 to 150,000 bucks,”he said.


Three reasons why there is such a demand for drivers are: the lifestyle of a trucker; the strict requirements to qualify; the fact that trucks haul just about everything and are always in great demand.
“Baby Boomers are retiring and moving out of the industry,” Jones said. “Our industry is tough on a family guy. You see more guys in their 40s and older.”
Plus there is not as much of a supply of younger workers.
“How many 21 to 25 years old want to get a CDL and drive a truck and be gone a lot,” Jones said.
Ortiz, though, said you still get a wide variety in age and gender who train to become drivers.
“I’ve had 18 to 67,” he said.
Also, to become a truck driver, your driving record needs to be nearly spotless and you have to pass a physical as well.
“A lot of people want to get in (to the profession), but you need a clean record,” said Willie Santillan, an instructor at the International Truck Driving School. “If you have speeding tickets, that’s a no no; if you have an accident, that’s a no no.”
Ortiz said that as people sign up for the classes — which cost in excess of $5,000 — a moving violation report is conducted.
Brook Stockberger may be reached at 575-541-5457; Follow him on Twitter @Bstockberger

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