Trucking Industry Looks To Women To Help Alleviate Driver Shortage
Support for this podcast and the following message. Come from Amazon web services, helping millions of builders from startups to enterprises governments transform their industries with secure AI, ready cloud services. Learn more at AWS is how dot com slash podcast. The trucking industry is changing massive driver shortages are forcing trucking companies to think differently about who can drive big rigs in the second of two stories. Frank Morris of member station. K C U R reports on how the industry is trying to recruit more women and younger people. Packed gravel what you're sprawling truckstop in southwest Iowa. Ellie? Oh, dear has found a place to park re truck for the night at twenty nine she's more than a quarter century younger than the average truck. Drivers fifty five. She's also part of a transformation in trucking this industry needs people that can adapt to the way it's changing because this industry is changing very rapidly. And it's going to change a lot from where it is right now over the next few years who is a transgender woman. She likes the solitude loves the constant travel and embraces the folding technology trucking, I got into it in the most millennial way possible. I was playing too many video games a trucking game letter with questions about real life trucking, which eventually Leto dare to a recruiter for Wilson, logistics in Springfield, Missouri. Where Darroll Wilson is president and CEO twenty years ago twenty five years ago who trained to somebody we look for good old farm boy. Right. And he drove tractors. He drove straight trucks. He came in. We gave them the training. He went made a trip. With another driver and he's off on his own. And it was okay. But that was then now the trucking industry short about sixty thousand drivers number that could double in ten years as baby boomers retire. So companies like Wilson's are developing. Alluring websites and have recruiters working the phones all day long, cajoling perspective employees to sign on like many, others Wilson provides free training to new hires like Angela Thornton. So more women are coming into the fill more diverse population. So starting to become more flexible immoral welcoming, women alone could fix the driver shortage. They now represent only eight percent of long-haul drivers. And there are reasons for that lots of truckers spend days sometimes weeks on the road sleeping in their trucks. Tethered to truck stops for food and restrooms. Threatened says many women are wary of truck stops safety concerns, especially if you are solo female driver, a lot of women are also still raising their families. So they need to be home. Our safety is the biggest concern women drivers. Have according to Ellen foia. President of the group women in trucking. We look at truck stops on lighting and fencing and reporting to them Chuck's upset are not safe, boys. Simple can companies are old ring routes to get drivers home more frequently and even springing for hotel rooms instead of expecting drivers to sleep in their trucks. She says it's worth it. Her data show that women drivers stay with their companies longer and drive more miles. And since most drivers get paid primarily by the mile women often make more money than men Boya says the percentage of women truck drivers has roughly doubled in the last decade. I think you're going to see the numbers increased dramatically in the next five years, the long haul trucking industry also wants to chance to hire people right out of high school companies are backing a plan to ease federal restrictions and allow eighteen year olds to drive semis. Across state lines. Meantime technologies making truck safer and easier to drive new ones are increasingly automated. Some don't require shifting onboard systems. Watch the lanes and can even apply the brakes technology also plays a. Big brother role allowing companies to closely monitor their drivers schedules. CEO Darroll Wilson says some older veteran drivers chafe at the new safety. Features and restrictions. He needs drivers who embrace them like Elliott air. She buys into our safety technology doesn't bucket. She's happy to drive their fifty eight to sixty mile an hour and get good fuel economy and be safe. And so yes, I think as technology changes the folks that appeals to change and our face changes dare figures that atonomy trucks will eventually ease. The driver shortage though with our gaming skills. She sees a possible job for self driving several trucks at a time remotely video game style. For NPR news. I'm Frank Morrison. Kansas City support for this podcast and the following message. Come from Comcast business having the nation's largest gig speed network was just the start. Now, they're providing gig fueled apps and solutions that exceed expectations and help businesses perform Comcast business beyond fast.