The Women In Trucking Association’s “Salute to the Women Behind the Wheel” brought together nearly 300 female professional drivers at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, this past week. The event honored the women who chose a career in a male-dominated environment.
It also attempted to set a record. Although the event did not break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of female drivers, it did set a North American record. WIT President Ellen Voie said the largest gathering occurred in 2004 in the Netherlands at an all-women convoy attended by 416 female drivers.
For the MATS event, a total of 290 women traveled from 39 states and two provinces.
Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, thanked the group for their years of service and dedication to safety.
“Women not only belong in trucking, but we make trucking better,” said Ferro, “Women can raise the bar for the industry with exceptional skills and dedication to safe driving practices.”
However, she acknowledged that it’s not an easy lifestyle or business choice for women.
“There are still challenges. Setting goals and breaking barriers isn’t easy, and organizations like Women In Trucking make individual women stronger by helping women support each other,” she said.
“For right now, it’s true that your performance and your decisions on the road don’t just reflect on you or on the companies you drive for; they reflect on all women in trucking. Whether you realize it or not, with every mile driven and every load delivered, you are paving the way for other women to succeed. I know that’s quite a burden. But I also know you can handle it.”
Ferro encouraged women drivers to take charge of their careers.
“As the traditional population of truckers decreases, opportunities may open for women to play a bigger role in trucking,” she said, advising women to “seek out those opportunities.”
Gift certificates were presented to 104 women who had achieved safe driving records, and Ferro greeted each one with a handshake as they posed for a photo with the administrator. Fourteen women were honored for reaching 3 million safe miles; 29 women attained 2 million; and the remaining 61 female drivers had each driven more than 1 million miles without a chargeable wreck.
The WIT participants donned red T-shirts for the occasion, and many were joined by friends and family members, bringing the total attendance to an estimated 700.