Few industries have so strong a macho image as truck driving. Yet here, as in so many other professions, women are making serious inroads into what has been a man’s world.
It turns out that in many respects, women make better truck drivers than men. At least that’s the opinion of Mike Kucharski, vice president of JKC Trucking, Inc., based in Summit, IL BB #:148724, which “specializes in climate controlled and dry freight loads as Chicago’s largest specialty contract carrier,” according to the company’s website. https://www.jkctrucking.com/
“JKC has dedicated less than truckload (LTL) and intermodal service to California, Florida, and major cities west of the Mississippi River. A fleet of 330 53FT & 48FT trailers and 250 tractors round out the JKC fleet which are company owned and driven by company drivers,” the website adds.
“Our company made it an initiative to hire more women to drive our trucks,” Kucharski says. “We have a lot of women drivers; I would love to hire more women.
“There are multiple reasons,” Kucharski explains. “Women are 20-27 percent less likely to get into accidents. They’re more patient and less aggressive than men, more cautious and safer. Men are more ‘cowboy.’”
Kucharski adds that when JKC recruits women truckers, “we explain the benefits. It’s not a man’s job. We tell them, ‘The workload is manageable. You could do it.’”
JKC has been seeking out women who lost their jobs during the pandemic, pointing out that, dealing with food products, “we are essential workers.”
Most importantly, he adds, “this is the one field where women are paid equal to men for work. Here it’s 55 cents a mile, 65 cents if you have the experience.”
Some have expressed another kind of safety concern regarding women in trucking: the possibility of assault or aggravation. Kucharski counters that the company’s drivers “are not afraid of sleeping in a truck. Truck drivers look after each other,” he notes, emphasizing the “camaraderie among truck drivers.” Of course, “you have to be cautious in what you do,” using the “same cautions as you would use at other jobs.”
All of JKC’s drivers are company employees. Kucharski acknowledges that the path is more difficult for owner-operators (of both sexes). Although owning your own business and being your own boss is part of the American Dream, there are heavy costs associated with being on your own, including insurance, maintenance, and permits, he points out.
This is an age in which old stereotypes are being reversed. If Kucharski’s attitude catches on, in the future the image of a burly male may not come quite so immediately to mind when the words “truck driver” are uttered.