A recent ATRI analysis that examined 12 behaviors, including prior collisions, traffic law violations, and convictions, found that women are safer truck drivers than men. In fact, this study found that male truck drivers are 20 percent more likely to get into a crash than their female counterparts.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that truck driver deaths reached a 29-year high in 2017 with 840 fatalities. That was a 6.6 percent increase over the 786 who died in 2016. The conclusion? Recruiting female truck drivers could help reduce the record number of truckers dying in crashes.
“We always knew that women were safer drivers,” said Ellen Voie, chief executive and founder of the nonprofit Women in Trucking Association. “We just didn’t have proof.”
The ATRI’s Crash Predictor model was built from examining 435,000 individual driver records over two years. According to this model, reckless driving and failure to yield the right of way were the top indicators of a driver’s likelihood of getting into a crash. When comparing female and male drivers, male truckers were found to be more reckless, more likely to be convicted of running a traffic signal, and less likely to wear seat belts.
The Human Factor
Interestingly, Voie thinks a female drivers more cautious driving style is influenced by biology. She states that, “Women are more risk-averse. It’s because of our maternal roots. We activate the fear factor faster than men.”
And, perhaps psychology and socialization also play a role. “Crashes involving women typically occur at slower speeds and result in less damage to the truck,” says Laura McMillan, vice president of Training Program Development at Instructional Technologies Inc.
“Women are more willing to admit what they don’t know, ask for help, and listen and learn, especially from others who are competent and display safe behaviors. Women seem to connect the dots that they are driving large equipment in high-speed environments and modify their behavior,” said McMIllan, who has also trained women seeking commercial driver’s licenses.
Safety Is A Priority
Stay Metrics, which counsels carriers and shippers on driver retention, says that female truckers are more likely to leave an employer if they feel equipment has been poorly maintained or if safety is lacking in the organization’s values. According to Stay Metrics, women care about things such as whether a dispatcher considers the safety of locations to which they are sent and factors like bad weather on driving conditions.
“Collecting data about how female drivers perceive safety is new for the industry,” said Voie, who managed recruitment and retention programs for Schneider National.
“Twelve years ago, when I started Women in Trucking, nobody had any data on gender, not even the insurance companies,” she said. “Carriers are finally recognizing the value women bring and are actually focusing on recruiting women drivers where in the past they tried to be gender-, age- and race-neutral.”
By The Numbers
The National Transportation Institute, a research organization that collects data regarding driver wages, benefits, and retirement plans from hundreds of trucking firms, says that women accounted for 7.89 percent of truck drivers in 2017, up from 7.13 percent in 2016. Finally, carriers are recognizing the value women bring to the industry.
What are you doing to attract more female trucks drivers to your fleet?
Be sure to check out our blog for more trucking industry news and trends from the team at Thunder Funding!