- Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Ks., the Women in Trucking Association and the American Trucking Associations are spearheading a Congressional bill to address the challenges and discrimination women face in the trucking industry, according to a draft version of the bill Women in Trucking shared with Supply Chain Dive. Freightwaves first reported the news.
- The bill would establish a "Women in Trucking Advisory Board" within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) comprising a diverse group of members representing small, medium and large carriers, trucking nonprofits, trucking associations and organizations representing independent owner-operators. The board would investigate the current biases and barriers women face in the trucking industry and work to uncover relevant solutions. The FMCSA declined to comment on the pending legislation.
- Among the training and mentorship solutions mentioned in the draft bill, Women in Trucking President and CEO Ellen Voie told Supply Chain Dive she hopes to see training for carriers on the challenges women face in order to reduce incidents of harassment and assault. She said an important factor in this is the current lack of female trainers for new drivers. "Carriers need to recognize a sleeper berth a few inches away [from] trainers of different genders can put women in a potentially dangerous situation," Voie said.
Due to ongoing worries about driver shortages, Voie sees an opening to call greater attention to the issues of recruiting and retaining women in the trucking industry.
According to the most recent Women in Trucking Association Index, only 7.89% of truckers are women. In addition to bias resulting from being a minority in the industry, safety from assault and harassment are significant concerns among female drivers. In a poll conducted by Women in Trucking, drivers were asked to rate their overall feeling of safety while on the job on a scale from one to 10, Voie said. The results averaged 4.4.
"This is unacceptable and our industry must work harder to ensure these drivers are safe on the road, at a warehouse, truckstop or in between," Voie wrote in a public comment.
The current legislative effort focuses more on professional development and bias, although it is unlikely to be taken up before September when Congress returns from its August recess. Sen. Moran has not yet announced the bill publicly. His office did not return requests for comment by press time.
Voie said Women in Trucking is also working with the FMCSA on a three-year study examining violence against female truck drivers. The study is currently in a comment period until Sept. 21.
In the background section on the FMCSA's submission to the Federal Register, it cites a 2006 article called "Workplace Violence Against Female Long-haul Truckers" stating "42 percent of female long-haul truckers reported experiencing one or more types of workplace violence."
In spite of the evidence the organization says it has accumulated, the FMCSA notes it "does not provide materials or training to truckers, including minority and female truckers, on how to protect themselves from being stalked, harassed, assaulted, or robbed."
The FMCSA says the purpose of the study is to assess the scope of the problem before recommending or implementing solutions. It will be conducted through an anonymous survey and interviews of 440 male and 440 female drivers.
"We appreciate the FMCSA's initiative in better understanding the challenges female and minority drivers face as they support the economy by delivering our nation's goods," Voie wrote in a comment on the study's Federal Register page. "Every woman should feel safe, regardless of her career choice, and currently, this isn't always the case."