Voie challenges fleets to spec trucks properly for female drivers

Lucas Deal | September 11, 2013
Women in Trucking's Ellen Voie speaking in 2010 at a Truckload Carriers Association conference.
Women in Trucking’s Ellen Voie speaking in 2010 at a Truckload Carriers Association conference.

Though women only make up 5 percent of the current driver population, Ellen Voie, president and CEO of the non-profit group Women in Trucking, says that number is steadily on the rise.

Speaking at the General Associates Meeting of the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) during its fall meeting Monday in Pittsburgh, Voie says it’s important for component manufacturers and fleets to take women’s needs into consideration when designing and spec’ing new vehicles.

“When you make something that works for a large group of people, it still doesn’t work at well for a small group” and usually women are part of the latter, says Voie.

According to research presented by Voie at TMC, the average female driver is six inches and 50 pounds lighter than their male counterparts. That physical discrepancy can create some serious issues for female drivers operating trucks built and designed for men.

Voie says the most common complaint female drivers issue about their vehicles is in-cab design. Seats, pedals and gauges are all designed to maximize a male’s experience, says Voie. Female drivers typically have problems setting their seats for easy access to the pedals and maximum visibility of the gauges, with both sometimes being an issue.

Another issue Voie says women are constantly fighting is ease of access into their trucks. With first steps and hand rails placed in locations to benefit men, women are commonly forced to enter and exit their vehicles without much assistance.

For fleets employing a significant number of women, Voie advises listening to their recommendations and concerns when spec’ing new vehicles. She says manufacturers are starting to integrate female usage in their product designs, but says it will take a concerted effort from female drivers and fleet managers to maintain that integration.

“The number of women in the industry is growing,” she says.

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  • martymarsh

    The only problem I see is being to short where you couldn’t reach the pedals and still see over the dash, which means you are to short for the job. So now they have to design a truck for short people. How many times have we seen a short person going down the road looking thru their steering wheel while driving their car, you think this is safe? Because we are always on a safety kick, safety first.

  • James Jarmon

    Well lets go the other direction. I’m 6’8″ tall 430 pounds. No one designs a truck for somebody my size. What do I do, simple, buy my own seat, steering wheel, mattress, anything that I need to do my job. Ever tried to find an OSHA approved ladder rated for 600 pounds. My tarps weight over a hundred pounds. Try asking a little guy to lift them. Not happening. Build your own truck, just for you, and wear it out. Should take 10 years, but is worth it.

  • Jim Kennedy

    James lets go another direction (thanks for allowin’ me to). Because trucking and Equipment operating is similar, not the same, well, when the heavy equipment (skid steer, backhoe, excavator) is not operating like it should that morning and the job still needs to get done by the afternoon to complete the demand, here’s the hand tool (ex Jack hammer, tamper, quickee saw, sa-zaw, etc) please have it done by 5 today and customer will be around in the afternoon to see that its complete. the whole idea behind the use of equipment was to allow operators less injury, more work, etc.. not to dissuade them from knowing how/being able to use the hand tools/attachments.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    the beaver needs to give it a brake ! if the girls cant drive the trucks as they are they need to stay in the kitchen bear foot and knocked up !