The Changing Face of the American Trucker

Today’s truck drivers adhere to tight delivery schedules, keep abreast of ever-changing laws and regulations, comply with a variety of paperwork and tax requirements, and know how to use a variety of technology. As a result, the stereotypical tough-guy trucker is no longer the norm.

Even the idea that a trucker is a middle-aged man alone on the road is becoming a thing of the past (although there are plenty of those guys still around and if you’re one of them, we’d love to hear from you.)

Nowadays drivers come from all walks of life and they’re changing the face of the industry we thought we knew. On the road today, you’ll find:

•    Mothers and wives. More and more women are getting behind the wheel these days. Currently there are approximately 83,000 solo women drivers in the U.S. And that number is growing thanks to competitive pay, flexible scheduling and the lure of business ownership. Some companies even have special recruiting programs directed toward women truckers.

•    Couples. Team driving is a growing trend in the industry. Teams perform all the functions of a solo driver, but are able to share the responsibilities. And because they are able to stagger their resting schedules, they can travel more miles faster than a single driver. And many teams are couples who find that sharing the cab and the job stress helps strengthen their relationship.

•    Retirees. Empty-nesters and older workers are flocking to driving careers as a way of adding to their nest eggs and seeing the country. Statistics show that the number of truck drivers over age 55 has jumped 19% since 2000. And the safety records of those drivers are among the best in the industry, making them a huge asset for companies.

•    Hispanics and immigrants. As older, more traditional drivers retire, their seats are being filled by Hispanics and other immigrants, many of whom are drawn to the trucking industry’s high pay, good working conditions and year-round job stability. In fact, Hispanics, the country’s fastest growing ethnic group, account for 1 in 7 of the nation’s 1.3 million long-haul truckers, partly because companies are recruiting heavily in urban Hispanic communities, often advertising in Spanish in order to reach those who aren’t fluent in English.

The wonderful opportunities provided by the trucking industry continue to create diversity in the workforce, and I, for one, consider that a good thing. What’s more, by attracting less traditional workers, we not only create good jobs for people who need them, we help our industry address the driver shortage, which is expected to double to nearly 300,000 in the coming year.