By John Gallagher, Washington Correspondent of FreightWaves
Two U.S. senators have introduced legislation that would require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to take a formal role in supporting women drivers.
The Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act, introduced Nov. 14 by Sens. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., directs the FMCSA administrator to create a Women of Trucking Advisory Board. The board would be tasked with identifying ways trucking companies, trucking associations and other groups can support women pursuing trucking careers, as well as finding opportunities to enhance training, education and outreach programs exclusive to women.
The legislation, previously reported by FreightWaves as the language was being finalized, would also make the agency responsible for identifying trends that directly or indirectly discourage women from pursuing careers in trucking. The FMCSA administrator would be required to submit a report on the advisory board’s findings and recommendations to both the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
“As the trucking industry continues to face a driver shortage, we need to examine new ways to recruit and retain drivers that are delivering Kansas goods across the country,” Moran said. “Because women are substantially underrepresented in the trucking industry, Congress should explore every opportunity to encourage and support the pursuit of careers in trucking by women. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan and sensible bill with Sen. Baldwin that will lead to new job opportunities for women and increase equality for women already in the trucking industry.”
The Women in Trucking Association and American Trucking Associations (ATA) support the legislation.
“By creating an advisory board to utilize the expertise and resources of the [FMCSA] and the members of the board, we can increase the opportunities for women as drivers, technicians, owners, trainers and in other relevant career roles,” said Women in Trucking Association President and CEO Ellen Voie.
In a letter to the bill’s sponsors, ATA President and CEO Chris Spear wrote that the legislation “brings important attention and focus to the advancement of female representation and participation in trucking.”
The bill highlights data showing that while women make up 47% of the U.S. labor force, they represent only about 7% of drivers, and that female drivers have been shown to be 20% less likely than men to be involved in a crash.
The FMCSA in July announced plans to assess the prevalence of crimes against women and minority truckers in the United States, an effort the agency sees as potentially increasing the pool of qualified drivers.