Growing Numbers, Social Media Influencers Help Women Transform Trucking

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Female over-the-road truckers, inspired by their TikTok influencers, are bringing change to a dynamic and essential component of the U.S. economy. ATS’s John Kearney notes that the growing ranks of women drivers are both finding opportunity and making the road safer.

Women made up more than 10% of over-the-road U.S. truck drivers in 2019, an increase of nearly 30% over the 7.89% reported a year earlier.

Women need good jobs and the nation needs good truckers. The interaction between these TikTok influencers and their followers is a wonderful example of how a great, essential industry of today can become an even better industry for tomorrow.

According to a recent study by the Women in Trucking Association, women made up more than 10% of over-the-road U.S. truck drivers in 2019, an increase of nearly 30% over the 7.89% reported a year earlier.(1) As they launch and grow their careers, these truckers are leveraging the power of social media to spread the word to other women seeking opportunity in trucking. Charlotte, N.C.-based Clarissa Rankin, for example, has nearly a million TikTok followers, who travel with her as she explains the pluses and minuses of her industry.(2) John Kearney, CEO of Advanced Training Systems, says, “This social-media activity should greatly help bring a significant increase in new, much-needed women truck drivers.”

One of the messages emphasized by social-media-active women truckers, notes Kearney, is the amount of opportunity open to new drivers. Trucking is consistently listed as one of the top-paying career positions open to applicants without a college degree, and the industry is urgently seeking new employees.(3) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures indicate that the industry currently needs 65,700 more drivers than it has, a shortfall that appears to be sharply increasing.(4) The industry is becoming more diverse in other ways as well; according to the American Trucking Associations, more than 40% of U.S. truckers are now minorities.(5)

Kearney, whose company is a leading designer and manufacturer of virtual simulators for driver training, among other applications, observes that one benefit of having women as a higher percentage of the trucking workforce will be safer highways. In a 10-year analysis of traffic fatalities in Great Britain, researchers found that compared with women, male drivers of all categories had twice the number of fatal accidents per mile driven. Male truck drivers had about four times the fatal accident rate of women truckers.(6)

As part of an industrywide effort to increase safety, Kearney notes, commercial-license driving schools—private schools, high schools, commercial colleges, tech schools, etc.—are increasingly using virtual-reality simulators to train truck drivers. Simulator technology is particularly attractive to women students, he notes, both for its effectiveness in preparing them to respond properly to dangerous situations and as an effective way to minimize the need for protracted on-on-one on-the-road training.

Women trucker TikTok influencers, notes Kearney, talk to their followers not only about career opportunities and highway safety, but about the realities of sexism, sexual harassment, personal safety, on-the-road hygiene, and an overall lifestyle associated with poor health.(7) “These issues are real,” Kearney says, “but the overwhelming message from the influencers is that they can be dealt with—and here’s how.”

In the process of demystifying trucking, Kearney adds, influencers are changing the motor freight industry itself. “Women need good jobs,” he says, “and the nation needs good truckers. The interaction between these TikTok influencers and their followers is a wonderful example of how a great, essential industry of today can become an even better industry for tomorrow.”

About Advanced Training Systems LLC:
Advanced Training Systems (ATS) is a technology and engineering firm that has revolutionized the design and manufacture of high-tech simulator systems to improve training for operators of all types of motor-powered vehicles. ATS, the holder of multiple patents in its field, is dedicated to providing cutting-edge adaptive training at an affordable cost to all involved in the transportation industry, resulting in more qualified drivers/operators and safer streets. For more information, visit http://www.atstrainingsystems.com.

1.    Coker, Ashley. “Number of Women behind the Wheel Soars Year-over-Year.” FreightWaves, 27 Sept. 2019, freightwaves.com/news/number-of-women-behind-the-wheel-soars-year-over-year.
2.    Willingham, AJ. “Female Truckers Have Become TikTok Influencers, and They're Changing the Transportation Game.” CNN, 10 Apr. 2021, cnn.com/2021/04/10/us/truckers-women-tiktok-social-media-trnd/index.html#:~
3.    Rose, Jeff, et al. “25 Top Highest Paying Jobs with NO College Degree in 2021.” Good Financial Cents, 4 Jan. 2021, goodfinancialcents.com/12-highest-paying-jobs-careers-without-no-college-degree-diploma/.
4.    Cassidy, William B. “Outlook 2021: Latest US Driver Shortage Requires Long-Term Solutions,” Journal of Commerce, joc.com/trucking-logistics/labor/outlook-2021-latest-us-driver-shortage-requires-long-term-solutions_20210120.html#:~:text
5.    Murphy, Byron. “How Diverse Is the Trucking Industry?” Convoy, 14 Apr. 2021, convoy.com/blog/diversity-in-trucking/#:~:tex
6.    Bakalar, Nicholas. “Behind the Wheel, Women Are Safer Drivers Than Men.” The New York Times, 27 Apr. 2020, nytimes.com/2020/04/27/well/live/car-accidents-deaths-men-women.html.
7.    Woodyard, Chris. “Women Are Increasingly Joining the Deadly World of Truck Driving, Confronting Sexism and Long Days.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 9 Mar. 2019, usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/03/09/women-truck-drivers-shortage-opportunities-pay-big-rigs/2845083002/

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