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New project studies impacts of long-haul driving on pregnant women

Dec. 1, 2020
A University of Colorado graduate student is working with the Women In Trucking Association to create resources for pregnant women in the trucking industry and initiate commercial fleet guidelines regarding maternal health.

Scott Manthey, vice president of Safety and Training at Wilson Logistics, has worked in trucking — with a particular focus on safety and operations — for the greater part of his life. So, he was surprised when his daughter, a graduate student studying biological anthropology at the University of Colorado, stumped him with a question about prenatal health and safety in trucking.

“I’d never even thought about that,” Manthey told his daughter.

Courtney Manthey-Pierce went on to ask her father about training for women versus men, as well as health and wellness programs for pregnant drivers. Again, he was stumped, as these topics aren’t regularly addressed in the trucking industry. So, Manthey ended up putting his daughter in touch with Jane Jazrawy of CarriersEdge and the Women In Trucking Association (WIT).

Ever since, Manthey-Pierce has been working with WIT on a research project to collect information about the effects that long-haul truck driving can have on women who are pregnant. She and WIT are seeking input from those who are pregnant or who have been pregnant while driving for a Driver Pregnancy Study survey, which is anonymous and now live on WIT’s website. Overall, the end goal of the project is to create informational resources for all women in trucking and to expand and initiate commercial fleet guidelines regarding prenatal health.

“We know from the science side that chronic stress can deeply and negatively impact both mom and baby,” explained Manthey-Pierce. “That’s what started this whole thing. The goal is to expand the support system for women truck drivers who are pregnant.”

Manthey-Pierce also noted that so far, the preliminary results from the survey show there are women in trucking who want guidelines and have questions about maternal health and safety within the industry. The end of the survey asks women what they feel is necessary to be included in their company’s policies, and the biggest concern that surfaced was women in the industry not knowing if they had maternity leave.  

“As the industry struggles to attract new drivers, we need to be able to accommodate female drivers who are pregnant,” explained Ellen Voie, WIT’s president and CEO. “What are carriers doing to accommodate these young women who want to have a career and a family? This research will help us better understand the challenges these women face and how we can ensure they are able to do their job.”

Growing up, Manthey-Pierce said her father always emphasized that “people have the right to come home from work the same way that they went there,” which played a major part in her decision to focus on the health of truck drivers working on the front lines. And the question that initially stumped Manthey has now prompted change at Wilson Logistics.

“Now, we have had discussions about what we would do if one of our female drivers came to us about being pregnant,” Manthey pointed out. “We don’t have a formal program outlined, but we have committed to making sure we have resources to assist when needed. It goes back to taking care of people, not being a part of hurting anyone and doing the right thing.

“As a safety professional, I find that learning is an important part of continued growth. It helps take you to the next level when striving for that goal of making sure no one gets hurt,” he continued. “This is an area, however small it may be, where as an industry, we can certainly find ways to get better.”

About the Author

Cristina Commendatore

Cristina Commendatore was previously the Editor-in-chief of FleetOwner magazine. She reported on the transportation industry since 2015, covering topics such as business operational challenges, driver and technician shortages, truck safety, and new vehicle technologies. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

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