A new study by a women's trucking advocacy group finds having same-gender training policies would encourage women to join the trucking industry.
The Women In Trucking Association this week published a new whitepaper, “Same-Gender Training Policy: Recruiting and Protecting Female Drivers.” Same-gender cab sharing during over-the-road training has been a primary concern of current and prospective female truck drivers, according to the organzation's findings.
After receiving their commercial driver’s license, aspiring professional drivers typically accompany an experienced one on their route to become more confident, safer, and capable on the road, according to Ellen Voie, president and CEO of WIT. This not only could mean working exclusively with a stranger in close quarters for long hours during the day, but it also means the potential of needing to sleep in the same vehicle, said Voie.
Part of the whitepaper outlines perspectives drivers hold specifically on same-gender training and its impact on female drivers in the industry. WIT conducted a driver safety and harassment survey and found more than 430 professional drivers completed the survey from July through Sept. 2021.
That study found 46% of drivers indicated they have had an unwanted physical advance made toward them at least once and another 52% know of someone who had an unwanted physical advance made toward them.
This, according to a statement from WIT, shows "it is understandable why the prospect of cab sharing with a member of the opposite gender concerns many women."
The WIT survey found that while most drivers believe their truck cabs are safe, they also indicated knowledge of women falling victim to harassment or assault while sharing a cabin.
“The Women In Trucking Association continues to press hard for companies to develop corporate policies that could help significantly shift this trajectory,” said Voie.
The whitepaper includes recommendations on same-gender training including:
- Adopt a same-gender training policy that enables female professional drivers to have the option for a same-gender trainer when involved in on-the-road training activities.
- When having a same-gender trainer isn’t an option in instances involving female drivers, carriers should develop alternatives to help reduce or eliminate issues, such as ensuring that when sleeping arrangements need to be made that one of the parties has the ability to have a paid hotel room available to avoid the need to sleep together in the same cab.
- Encourage driving teams where partners who are friends, spouses, or in a committed relationship alternate their time behind the wheel on the same route.
- Upgrade in-cab safety technology so trucks are equipped with sound-enabled in-cab cameras and panic/emergency buttons in the sleeper and cabin.