Are There Enough Women Truck Drivers?

23 February 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic has proven beyond reasonable doubt that road freight transportation is the lifeblood of the global economy. Goods moved by air, rail and even pipeline may very well end up at the back of a truck headed to a manufacturer, distributor, warehouse, retailer, or any other customer in the supply chain. Road freight is frequently required at the start and finish of a multimodal transportation chain (first/last mile). This highlights the fundamental role of the truck driver to our modern societies. We rely on efficient and dependable road freight transportation systems to get our goods to the shelves. 

That as it may, the heavy-duty truck driving industry is dominated by an aged male population nearing retirement. This is notwithstanding the serious shortage of skilled truck drivers globally. The industry needs as many truck drivers as possible to replace those retiring and the replacements don’t look like millennials, and not to mention Gen Z. Could women of all ages fill this gap? 

Because of our gender conditioning, it has always been hard for men and women alike to consider the idea of women spending days on end on the road moving cargo. In 2002, a report found that the average age of women truck drivers was between 41 and 45 years old, and 74% had children. Interestingly as of 2021, Zippia’s reported that the average age of females in trucking is 48.5 and males 47.4.  

In the US, Zippia found that 9.1% of all truck drivers are women, while 88.3% are men. This is out of an estimated 1,441,014 truck drivers currently employed in the United States, with woman earning 87% of what men earned in 2021.  

Read: Truck Driver Statistics and Facts in the US 

In the UK, less than 1% of truck drivers are female. Scania states that around 2,200 of the 315,000 registered truck drivers in the UK are female. In 2021, founder of Commercial Transport Academy (CTA), Nicci Scott stated that data indicates that women make up less than 1% of the working driver population in South Africa, and in Australia this figure is at around 20%.  

Read: Unlocking opportunities for female truck drivers 

Even though there are fewer female drives on the roads than males, there is a view that female drivers are safe, reliable, and at least as hard working as male drivers. The American Transportation Research Institute states that female drivers are 20% less likely to be involved in a crash. Relative to females, male truck drivers had 88% increased likelihood of receiving a reckless/careless/inattentive/negligent driving conviction. 

Read: The Safety Case for Bringing More Women to Trucking 

In South Africa, the unstable, and often violent environment to which truck drivers are exposed may be seen as a limiting factor when attempting to recruit new truck drivers. However, there are initiatives focused on developing female truck drivers such as the collaboration between the Commercial Transport Academy and Woman In Trucking Africa. They argue that besides ensuring equal opportunities for both male and female students, women are softer on their vehicles, reducing warranty claims and damages. Their programmes push for transformation and inclusivity in the sector.  

Indeed, there are women now defying the odds despite the traditional stereotypes in the logistic sector. According to the International Transport Forum, as technology progresses and digital innovations are implemented throughout the sector, the old idea that transportation-related employment requires physical strength is becoming less important. 

Whilst more women are now taking up the so-called non-traditional jobs in the logistics sector, they are still too few and more still needs to be done to attract women in the trucking industry. 

Written by Staff Content Writer, Raymond Moyo.