Women find freedom in the trucking industry

Behind The Wheel: Truck Week

(NewsNation) — More women are hitting the road as truck drivers and finding freedom along the way.

Women made up over 10% of over-the-road truck drivers in 2019, that’s an almost 30% increase from the previous year, according to a study by Freightwaves.

For some, it’s a dream come true.

“When I was a little girl, my father and I would go on trips, and I’d see these big trucks going down the road. I told myself, one day, I’m gonna drive one of those trucks,” Vanita Johnson said on “Morning in America.”

Johnson is a Class A CDL driver and instructor. She says the pandemic pushed her to make her wildest dream come true.

“I had just got my teacher’s certificate. So I would have been a first-year teacher teaching sixth-grade math. And COVID hit and it was just totally overwhelming. I did not want to do my students a disservice so I resigned,” Johnson said.

Now, Johnson owns her own business.

“I’m an owner-operator, I now run a business. It’s my business,” she said.

For Carla Holmes, truck driving was a career pivot she says she didn’t know she needed.

“I was OK with living the rest of my life paycheck to paycheck, and today I don’t live like that. I don’t have to live that way,” she told NewsNation.

Holmes said a two-week trip in her husband’s big rig helped her change the course of her life. She said she was a case manager at a drug facility before entering the industry.

She told her husband, “If I’m gonna be in the truck with you, I want to make money, too.”

After five months of school, she earned her commercial driver’s license.

The women say they’ve found freedom in the ride.

“It’s a lot of freedom,” Johnson said.

Holmes adds, “I love it. I get to see the country, I get to travel the country, I get to go to all kinds of states. I see so many sunrises and sunsets and just beautiful scenery.”

They say trucking has provided a level of financial freedom they didn’t think was possible and encouraged other women to jump behind the wheel.

Women in Trucking President and CEO Ellen Voie stressed that the industry has evolved significantly over the years from safety to work-life balance, saying, “This isn’t your grandpa’s trucking industry anymore.”

“The industry has changed a lot, there’s so much more technology on the trucks that makes them much safer, makes it much easier to operate. Also, the pay is the same whether you’re a female or a male, it doesn’t matter, the pay is the same. Because you’re either paid by the hour, the mile, the load,” Voie said on “Morning in America.” “Companies are really doing a lot of work to get drivers home, so much more. So work-life balance. And there are jobs where you can like haul trash or you know, make deliveries during the day and be home at night with your kids.”

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