Truck driving is one of the few jobs that offer women without a university degree a high income on par with their male counterparts. On the east coast of Australia, drivers can earn as much as $100,000 per year. On the west coast, where demand is increasing, income can be as high as $200,000 per year. Some companies in Western Australia are even offering $10,000 cash as an incentive to east coast drivers who are willing to relocate.
Women considering truck driving as a career or as means to earn more money, need to know that trucking is still very much a bloke’s domain. While no-one wants to discourage you from trucking, women entering the profession need to be aware of the potential pitfalls and how to avoid any unpleasantness while out on the road.
1. Female Truck Drivers Have Many Reasons for Choosing This Type of Work
Trucking allows widows, divorced women, and single mothers to support themselves and their children. Women with grown children become truck drivers to increase the household income. Also, after the kids are grown, a woman who is married to a trucker may decide to get her commercial driver’s license and team drive with her husband, thereby making money while spending more time together.
2. Female Truck Drivers Encounter a Wide Range of Driving Jobs
Out-and-back, home-daily jobs with daily stops to service regular customers are the best fit for widowed, divorced, or single mothers. Customers, however, expect the driver to unload their shipment, which can be heavy. Injuries are common and are more likely to be serious for women who are physically weaker or older and not in perfect health. Nevertheless, most women choose these routes for the predictable schedules and regular time at home.
A few women choose long-haul-over-the-road routes for the higher income, but these require the driver to be on the road for three weeks or more at a time. Long-haul drivers must plan their time and routing and be able to handle many hours of solitude. Such routes are not for someone who cannot handle loneliness or find ways to occupy his or her mind.
3. Be Prepared That You Are Still In a Typical Bloke’s World
Most male truck drivers are typical Aussie blokes. They will have teasing comments for the little woman driving the big truck. However, there is an equal opportunity for male drivers to become the subject of teasing. Whether you are male or female, if you are fragile, shy, sensitive, or timid, working in a bloke’s world may not be for you.
4. Trucking is Not a Job For Woman Who Want To Be Babied
Sexual harassment policies do not protect female truck drivers from harassment by males employed by other companies. Women who flirt to get a man to unload a 53 foot trailer for them, quickly learn that some male drivers do not respond well to what may be perceived as “an offer withdrawn”.
Driving a truck also can be dangerous in other ways. Some good and helpful people drive trucks, but the job also allows undesirables to travel anonymously and unnoticed. All drivers should remain aware of their surroundings and other people, and avoid appearing vulnerable.
5. Female Truck Drivers Should Follow these Safety Tips While on the Road:
- Before exiting the cab, always look around the truck and scout the scene. Don’t walk into danger from loiterers who look suspicious.
- Avoid carrying big purses. Thieves often loiter in truck stops.
- Be cautious about quickly striking up conversations with strangers.
- On the way to and from a restroom, walk in the middle of the widest, best-lit area.
- Avoid long walks through a dark parking lot by taking showers in the middle of the afternoon rather than at night.
- Avoid provocative clothing. Most women in a truck stop who dress provocatively are plying another profession. Don’t be mistaken for one of them.
- Avoid engaging in sexual banter on the CB. Walk away assertively and with purpose if a man approaches with a flirtation or sexual banter face to face.
- Keep truck doors locked at all times and tie a strap or rope from door handle to door handle to secure it in a tough-looking parking spot.
- Close the window curtains, not just the bunk curtains, when reading or doing paperwork. Avoid calling attention to a solitary female driver or to a driver who is not paying attention to their surroundings.
6. Female Truck Drivers Should Be Aware of Health Concerns
Trucking has one of the highest fatality rates of all professions and the highest injury rate. While no comparable studies on women exist, some studies show male drivers live an average of 55 years – at least 20 years less than the average for other males. Falls, sprains, bruises, rotator cuff tears, and ankle, hand, and back injuries are common. There is strong evidence that the whole-body vibration caused by driving long distances is dangerous to the lumbar spine, and that it is exacerbated in women, as are reproductive problems. Long-haul drivers find it difficult to attend to their health needs leading to serious undiagnosed illness such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, kidney problems, and lung disease.
Truck driving has some trade-offs, but for women seeking high income and freedom, truck driving may be a career worth considering.
About the Author
Phillip Gruppelaar is the founder of Harley Finance – Australia’s largest truck, equipment and machinery finance broker. Contact Phillip at the website www.harleyfinance.com.au if you have any financial needs or questions with your application.