Finalist Annette Dellinger: ‘I can always turn people around with my smile’
Name: Annette Dellinger
Company: Con-way Truckload
Years in trucking: 2
Hauls: Dry van freight and hazmat loads throughout all 48 states and into Canada.
Truck: 2014 Kenworth T680
Having only been on the road for two years, top ten finalist Annette Dellinger refers to herself as the “baby of the bunch.” Her daughter and son had grown and moved out of the house, and Dellinger’s husband had recently started driving. He had been solo on the road for about six months when the two decided to form a team and see the country together.
The couple drives about 6,000 miles a week. “That means we are constantly running,” says Dellinger. “He’s sleeping, and I’m driving, or I’m sleeping, and he’s driving, though we do try to make sure to spend time together every day. When we work as a team, it’s great way to watch out for each other. We count on each other.”
Overdrive: What’s your definition of beauty in relation to trucking?
Annette: I think the best way to define it in relation to trucking is how we dress up our trucks. A lot of drivers do the chrome, do the lights, and do all these things to put people in awe when they see us coming down the road. But the driver inside also represents the truck and the company. We look the best we can, and we do our best to be professional. The woman driver inside is representing her truck.
Annette: My friends and family nominated me. And they are ecstatic. They are very proud of me coming this far. I’m still new at this, and they have high hopes for me. I may not win, but just making it this far is enough.
Overdrive: How do you feel about the role of women truckers?
Annette: We constantly have to make ourselves known, because there are still a lot of especially older drivers who have been driving for many years, and who don’t feel that we should be on the road. It’s a hard role to fill, but we just have to get out there and say hey, we can do it along side of the men.
Overdrive: What would say to the non-driving public about women driving big rigs?
Annette: A lot of people, when they see a woman driving a truck, will back up and act more cautious, but I’d say don’t be afraid when you see us at first. We drive just as well and just as safely as a man driver would. And you know, if I can do it, you can do it, too.
I think the best way to define it in relation to trucking is how we dress up our trucks. A lot of drivers do the chrome, do the lights, and do all these things to put people in awe when they see us coming down the road. But the driver inside also represents the truck and the company. We look the best we can, and we do our best to be professional.
Overdrive: What do you wish you knew before you started driving?
Annette: Probably what to take and what not to take on the road. That takes some getting used to. You don’t really know what you’ll need when you’ll be gone for several weeks at a time. It’s also a trying experience to be away from home. My father is a trucker too, and growing up, we would always plan holiday and birthday celebrations around his schedule, but I never really understood how difficult that can be until I started driving.
Overdrive: If you could fix one thing about the trucking industry, what would it be?
Annette: I’d make more parking available to truck drivers, especially in normal shopping areas. I know we have Walmarts steadily available to all truck drivers, but if there were more places we could go into—malls, shops, grocery stores. There are parking areas around, but not enough for the amount of truckers on the road.
Overdrive: Is there a sisterhood in trucking?
Annette: Oh, definitely. Even when you pass another driver on the road, we always give that look or thumbs up. We’re extra gracious and courteous to each other when we see each other. We tend to stick together and look out for each other as far as safety goes. I drive with my husband, but there are women who drive solo, and it’s good to keep that in mind and help each other out when we can.
Overdrive: What do you like about the way you look?
Annette: My smile—I can always turn people around with my smile, and I’m grateful for that. I also like my size. I’m short, and I think that can catch people off guard. My husband is 6’3” and I’m 5’1”.