I’m not going to sugar coat this, female truck drivers in many ways can expect a different experience (compared to men) while truck driving. It’s just the way it is for women in a male dominated field.
To be fair male drivers do face a similar set of challenges, just not to the same extent.
Being safe and aware of what is going on around you is good for all drivers, not just women. In this article you’ll find 16 tips for truck drivers that are women but can be applied to all truck drivers, regardless of gender.
Trucking, just like any job, has it’s own set of dangers. It’s difficult to say that every female driver is going to go through but there are some things you can do to protect yourself to make driving less problematic.
If you are a women there are some specific things you should do to not only to stay safe but to also deal with the daily grind of being a truck driver.
1. Sexual Harassment Is Going To Happen
It’s going to happen to you at some point, expect it. Be prepared ahead of time so that you aren’t caught completely off guard.
There are going to be men, even women, out there that are not going to respect you and think you are a lot lizard with a CDL.
What should you do? Snap back. Give them some attitude and they will usually leave you alone. Also, there are a lot of decent men that are truck drivers that will stand up for you too.
I’ve seen it on several occasions where a male driver wouldn’t leave a female driver alone and some other guys stepped in so that he would
stop bothering her.
I don’t have data to support it but I think most male drivers are decent guys that will defend you if necessary. After all, a lot of those drivers have wives and daughters that they would want someone to step in if they were in the same situation.
2. Finding Good Parking Is Important
Don’t run late if you don’t have to because you are going to have limited parking choices. Your first choice should be to sleep at the shipper/receiver if possible.
If you can’t do that then the second best thing is to reserve a spot.
Regardless of how you find your parking spot be sure it isn’t far from other drivers just in case you have some problems. Having people around is a deterrent, don’t isolate yourself.
If there is high traffic around you there is less chance someone is going to try to break into your truck or bother you when you walk through the lot.
3. Make Sure You Always Have Enough Of What You Need
Make sure you have everything you need in your truck in case you have to park somewhere that might seem scary.
At the very least you should always have some food reserves and a few gallons of water. You should carry 5 gallons (at least) of water with you at all times.
If you get stuck due to weather you want to make sure you have enough food and water to last you a few days. Also make sure you have some extra blankets and clothing.
Being prepared for anything that comes your way is absolutely necessary for all truck drivers.
4. The Bathroom
There is no way this list could be complete without mentioning the bathroom.
You will have to get a female urinal like this one that you can use at night, when you wake up, and any time in between. Easy enough, just dump it in the grass the next day or pour it into a toilet.
For other business don’t use a bucket! Spend a few dollars and get a portable toilet like this one here. These days they are made really well and if you use them correctly they don’t smell at all.
5. Get A Lot Of Baby/Wet Wipes
Baby wipes will be your best friend.
They can be your shower if you aren’t near a real one. They wipe off plates and utensils. They clean your hands and face. Use them to wipe down your interior too.
These things can be used just about anywhere. Stock up on them the next time you go to Walmart.
6. Be Prepared For Truck Stop Showers
Truck stop showers are not as bad as you imagine them to be. Sure, there are some nasty ones out here but there are also some nice ones as well.
Over time you’ll figure out where it’s okay to shower and where it’s not. If you ever fear for your safety because of a sketchy truck stop just skip the shower all together, you’ll be fine just cleaning up using some wet wipes.
If you want to know what to put in your shower bag then you need to read this article I wrote all about being prepared for the truck stop shower. Make sure you read it.
Aside from the things in the article make sure you get Lysol Kitchen and Bathroom Spray or Lysol wipes. Before you get into the shower give the floor a quick spray and run the hot water in there while you brush your teeth and unpack your shower bag.
Now when you get into the shower (with shower sandals of course) your know that the floor is clean.
If your skin is sensitive you should carry your own bath towels, some truck stops use harsh soaps that make for rough towels.
5. Weapons (for protection only)
Don’t carry a gun. Gun laws vary from state to state and you will find yourself in trouble if you don’t know the gun laws of the state you are in.
A can of hairspray is going to burn when sprayed into someones eyes.
Another option is to get some pepper spray like this one on Amazon.
6. Get A Paper Road Atlas
I know it sounds crazy these days but eventually you will need to use a paper atlas. The one that most truck drivers prefer is this one by Rand McNally.
Why? Because eventually your electronic GPS is going to let you down and you have to be able to read a map. Trust me, it happens to everyone at some point.
If you cant spend the money on a real GPS unit then get yourself a good GPS app for your phone or tablet.
Wondering which GPS apps you should try? In this article you will find the best GPS apps for truck drivers that you can put on your phone or tablet.
7. Make A List Of Mentors
Find trucking mentors that you know you can rely on to answer your questions. Don’t be afraid to approach other female drivers, a lot of them would love another female driver to talk to.
8. Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
This is true whether you are driving a truck or a car. Be aware of what is going on around you at all times.
If something or someone seems weird you don’t have to give them the benefit of the doubt. Just distance yourself from them.
Your priority is that you are safe.
9. Ask For A Female Trainer
A lot of companies will assign new female drivers to female trainers. Make sure you ask ahead of time if this is something they are willing to do.
You need to know this information before you start driving for them.
It would be very weird living in a tiny truck with a man for several weeks. If you can avoid it you should.
Some companies will place female drivers in hotel rooms during OTR training if they have a male trainer.
I’d seek out a company that has this policy so at the very least
you are able to sleep by yourself.
10. Don’t Worry About Strength
If you are a small woman you need not worry about strength in order to do your job. Unless you are driving a flatbed you aren’t going to be doing any lifting at all.
All you have to know is how to drive the truck, not load and unload it. The shippers and receivers are going to do that.
Sure, some people will be surprised to see you driving a truck but they quickly get over it when they see you doing your job well.
It takes some time but eventually you’ll develop thick skin and those extra looks, stares, and attention that you get from people won’t bother you at all.
11. Truck Stops Are Not So Bad
Remember those movies from the 80’s and 90’s showing truck stops as a sleazy place where drugs were sold and prostitutes (lot lizards) were all over the place?
That’s not the way it is! Most truck stops these days have decent lot lighting and a bunch of drivers that do look out for each other. It’s rare that anyone is going to harass you.
More and more truck stops even have 24/7 security at all times on their premises. Security at truck stops was non-existent not too long ago but is relatively common these days.
The people that are there are trying to make a living, not cause problems.
Even with that said you should always lock your doors and close your curtains. Also, don’t park far from the other trucks that are there. In case something does happen it’s good to have other people around.
Avoid the back of the truck stop parking lots at all times.
12. People Will Try To Help You Because You Are A Woman
You will get the feeling people are trying to help you more than they would a male driver and they probably are.
Don’t be offended. If you don’t want the help just decline. If you could use the extra help then take it.
Take note that other drivers may offer help when you are backing. It may simply be because they see you having a hard time backing, not because you are a woman
Backing is the most challenging maneuver for all drivers, male and female. I wrote this article that will give you 22 wonderful tips for backing.
If you are a new driver it is a must read article.
13. Get A Dog
Having a dog is great for keeping you company on the road. Aside from being good company dogs are also more alert to what is going on around them.
Dogs will often sense danger or hear sounds before you do. Then they will alert you to what’s going on by barking. Having a dog is an easy (and fun) way to stay safer when you are alone in your truck sleeping.
Trucking with dog isn’t as challenging as you think. Here are some tips that you should read if you are contemplating getting a dog or already have one.
13. Don’t Expect Special Treatment
In this industry most people really don’t care if you are a women.
The only thing your company is going to care about is whether or not you can get the job done. This is the number one thing to them.
Don’t expect any sympathy just because you are a female. You won’t get it in this industry.
No company is going to hold onto you with 3 accidents just because you are a woman. Also, no company is going to hire you if you are accident prone just because you are a woman.
The morale of the story it this: Go out there and do a good job and people are going to respect you, regardless of your gender, race, religion, or anything else.
14. Trucking Is Difficult On Traditional Marriages
If you envision yourself waiting for your man every night with a nice dinner then you are going to be disappointed, especially if you drive long haul/OTR.
Make sure you and your partner know what to expect and both of you are okay with that. If not, your relationship isn’t going to last. Some of the best trucking relationships I have seen is when both the husband and wife go out on the road together. This isn’t always possible though.
15. Join A Female Trucker Community
Join a community (online) for female truck drivers. Check out the Women In Trucking Association, there is a ton of information on their site for female truck drivers.
It’s good to get some perspective from other female drivers out there because at times you may feel like you are the only one.
Women In Trucking Association is a non-profit organization that encourages women to join the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry.
16. Watch Out For Lot Lizards!
If you haven’t already heard about lot lizards then let me fill you in. Lot lizards are women that hang around truck stop parking lots asking drivers if they need sexual favors for money (prostitutes).
They are not as common as they were several years ago but you should be aware that you will still come across them in parking lots.
Stay away from these lizards, don’t try to “save” them by talking to them or trying to reason with them. Lock your doors and let them lives their lives however they want to.