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Advice for women who want to become truck drivers

A woman with grey, pulled back hair wears a red and blue plaid shirt and smiles as she leans out of the window.

According to the Women in Trucking Association, women make up approximately 10% of all truck drivers in the United States. This is a nearly 2% increase since 2019. 

Although the number of men in this profession outweighs the number of women, that doesn’t mean truck driving is a man’s job. In fact, trainers and instructors often say that women are some of the best truck drivers on the road. 

Female drivers share their truck driving advice 

The following are just a few of Schneider’s outstanding women drivers who wanted to share some insights and advice with other women who are considering becoming truck drivers

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Dana Westbrook
Van Dedicated driver
Joined Schneider in 2020

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Toni Thomas
Van Dedicated driver
Joined Schneider in 2003

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Margo Mitchell
Van Truckload driver
Joined Schneider in 2001

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Nancy Abbey
Van Truckload Team driver
Joined Schneider in 2001

Now, let's find out how these women started their truck driving careers and what advice they have for other female drivers looking to get started.

1. How did you become a woman truck driver? 

“I always loved driving and thought I would take a shot at truck driving at 51 years old. I just really wanted to teach my daughters not to be afraid to think outside the box or start over.” - Dana Westbrook 

“When I was seven years old during a move, I sat between my father, who was driving, and my grandfather and declared that I was going to drive trucks when I got big. After I raised my two children and became an empty nester, I decided that it was a good time to follow my dream.” - Toni Thomas 

“My dad raised me to be a driver. At 15, I pointed at a tractor-trailer and asked if he thought I could drive one of those. He looked me in the eye and said, ‘You're a Mitchell. You can drive anything.’ I started studying for my CDL before I even had a permit to drive a car.” - Morgan Mitchell 

“My husband wanted to be a truck driver and when the interviewer was on the phone with him, he said, ‘Your wife could be a truck driver with you, and you can be a team.’” - Nancy Abbey 

2. Would you advise other women to become truck drivers? 

“Absolutely. I think women at my age in their 40s and 50s are at such a good age to get into this. I’ve met so many older women that are still out here. You have to be willing to work physically and be mentally strong, aware and be constantly learning.” - Dana Westbrook 

“Women shouldn't be afraid to get out of the norm. I think driving can make a woman feel empowered. I also believe that women are safer drivers because they aren't afraid to ask questions, ask for help and are willing to learn.” - Toni Thomas 

“The workload is manageable and it pays very well for what you have to do. There are good benefits. Truck drivers are always needed, so a woman would have no problem finding a job driving a truck.” - Nancy Abbey 

3. How does a woman stay safe out on the road? 

“You need to know your truck and you need to do your pre-trip so you can realize when something isn’t right with your truck immediately. Even though we learn about it in training and CDL school, you should still ask mechanics questions about the truck so you learn how things work.” - Dana Westbrook 

“Be alert of your surroundings, make smart decisions about safety and don’t be afraid to say ‘I don't feel safe.’ Know your limits and have lots of communication when you’re unsure of how to do something.” - Toni Thomas 

“Don't be afraid to ask for help. You'll have plenty of chances to help others, too. I also prefer not to stay at truck stops in big cities. I'll only stay at operating centers in places like Atlanta, Dallas and Memphis.” - Margo Mitchell 

4. Do you have any advice for inexperienced female drivers? 

“Let go of feeling like you have to work twice as hard to feel like you know what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.” - Dana Westbrook 

“Come in confident, with a positive attitude, a willingness to learn and know that you can do the job. Don’t be a ‘know-it-all’ or expect that, because you're a woman, you shouldn't have to do the dirty stuff, like climbing under the trailers.” - Toni Thomas 

“Don't feel like you have to prove yourself to anyone. Some may worry about what others may think or say because it is a male-dominated field. Just doing your job well is proof enough. Lots of guys have shook my hand and commended me for how I drive or back.” - Margo Mitchell 

5. Do you ever feel unsafe, intimidated or afraid to ask for help because you are a woman in this industry? 

“It can be a dangerous job and sometimes people don't make it easy for women. Women have to be strong and stand up to people who think we can't or shouldn't be out here doing this job.”  - Toni Thomas 

“One time, a lady asked if I was scared to sleep in a parking lot with all those men. I said, ‘No! It’s the safest place to be.’ The majority of those guys are great men who see us as daughters or sisters. They look out for us." - Margo Mitchell 

“Before I started, I thought truck driving was going to be very physically demanding, and occasionally, there are times when I just don’t have the brute strength to do something. But after 18 years of driving, never once has there not been another truck driver around who’s willing to help me.” - Nancy Abbey 

6. What is the best part about being a truck driver? 

“I love to drive. My goal is to go over-the-road eventually, but I want to use this time on a local Dedicated account to gain as much knowledge and comfort level as possible, so I can be prepared to go over the road.” - Dana Westbrook 

“I do it because I like the movement. I enjoy my job. Every day is a new adventure.” - Toni Thomas 

“I really like my job. I have been able to go to every major city because of this job. I’m actually surprised that more women aren’t truck drivers.” - Nancy Abbey 

Looking for more insight from female drivers?

Learn more about what it’s like being a woman truck driver at Schneider and read why this is the best time for females to join the industry. Check out even more blogs about Schneider's female drivers.

About the author
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Schneider Guy loves the "Big Orange." He's passionate about the trucking industry and connecting people to rewarding careers within it. He's been the eyes and ears of our company since our founding in 1935, and he's excited to interact with prospective and current Schneider associates through "A Slice of Orange."

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