The annual conference dedicated to female truck drivers kicked off on November 12. It discusses security concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as several other issues. Transport Secretary Elaine Chao spoke at the conference.
Impact of Coronavirus on Trucking Industry
Chao said that first, the coronavirus had raised public opinion about trucking and truck drivers. Indeed, during a pandemic, it was they who ensured the supply of all the necessary goods.
Unlike passenger transportation, especially vehicles with small capacity, cargo transportation did not suffer much from the coronavirus. While passenger traffic fell by 63%, motorway traffic fell by only 7%. Chao told about the measures the DOT has taken to improve the truckers' safety during the pandemic.
In addition to fighting the coronavirus, Chao recalled the changes to the HOS rules discussed on May 14. The changes took effect on September 29. Four amendments related to a 30-minute break and time-sharing on a sleeping place. Chao said the changes were made to give truckers more rest and relieve them of the feeling of being chased for a while.
The Role of Women in the Transport Industry
Five hundred people have registered for the virtual conference of the Women In Trucking Association. According to this organization, only 10% of all drivers are women.
Chao spoke about the importance of women drivers in the transport industry. Besides, she announced the Women & Girls in Transportation Initiative, which you can join. It's a US Department of Transportation project that offers an internship. Chao called female drivers the new American heroines, and the goal of the initiative mentioned above is to increase the number of such heroines.
There is now a shortage of truck drivers in the US. But this is one of the central problems of the industry over the past 4 years. The American Trucking Association estimated that by the end of 2018, the trucking market was short of 60,800 drivers. In this context, women can compensate for this lack. After all, if the situation does not change, the industry may already lack 100,000 drivers in five years.
Ellen Voie, president of the Women In Trucking Association, shared an interesting study that shows women are safer drivers than men. Indeed, according to the updated ATRI Crash Predictor Model, men were 88% more likely than women to have been convicted of illegal driving and were also more likely to have accidents.
So Voie commented that if the industry still needs drivers, why ignore 50% of the population.