Only 6% of truck drivers are women - but the data suggests they're safer drivers who are less likely to quit their jobs
- There aren't many female truck drivers.
- Companies rarely target women in their recruiting practices.
- However, data suggests that women are safer truck drivers, and they could help lessen the truck driver shortage.
It's something of a mission for Vonda Cooper, the operations director at Roadmaster, to get more women into truck driving. "There's great opportunity for advancement for women in this field," she told Business Insider.
And data suggests it's wise for fleets to boost their number of female drivers, too. Fleet management solutions company Omnitracs found that female truck drivers get into fewer preventable accidents than men and generally drive more cautiously. They also are less likely to quit driving, which is particularly critical as turnover rates among truck drivers reach 95%.
Every 100 female drivers get into 3.41 preventable accidents, compared to a rate of 3.44 accidents among every 100 male drivers. Omnitracs data also found that women are less likely than men to get warnings while driving like "excessive overspeed," "forward collision warning," "hard breaking," and other signals that can lead to an accident.
"In general, women are slightly more cautious drivers than men," Lauren Domnick, chief data scientist at Omnitracs, told Business Insider. "If you extrapolate that to the big rig, we've seen that women are not as as aggressive drivers on the road as their male counterparts."
Along with the safety points, women drivers tend to rack up more miles than men. That's likely because they often drive in teams and can switch with their partner when one of them reaches the government-limit of driving, Domnick said.
She said team drivers of women or husband-wife duos are a very underutilized resource in the trucking industry.
Trucking companies have gone all in on recruitment efforts in the face of a shortage of 51,000 drivers. Sign-on bonuses for flatbed drivers have jumped from $1,500 in 2017 Q2 to $6,000 in 2018 Q2. One trucking company reported that bonuses of $20,000 still haven't lured in quality, new hires.
One way trucking companies could curb that shortage, Domnick said, is to target women in their recruiting efforts - something that very few of them do. "It's something that companies just don't think about as much as they should," Domnick said.
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