When Shannon Smith learned about the Women In Trucking Assn. in 2007, she immediately joined the organization. She never imagined that joining would result in her being featured in a story in Oprah’s magazine, O.
How the woman trucker ended up featured in a national women’s magazine occurred in a round about way, as did her career in trucking.
In 2008, Smith was interviewed by Career World magazine where she talked about her childhood desire to drive a truck. That story was discovered by Jeanne Marie Laskas, an author writing a book about people who work in the unrecognized jobs that support America. Laskas wrote then wrote “Joy Ride: How One Woman Found Bliss on the Open Road” for O Magazine. The story appears in the June 2012 issue.
As a child, Smith watched the trucks along the highway in her home state of Georgia, and she imagined herself at the wheel of one of those rigs, tugging on the air horn to the delight of the next generation of children. “One day I’m gonna blow that horn,” she said.
Her father, a diesel mechanic, advised her to learn how to fix an engine if she wanted to drive a big rig, so when an Army recruiter called her one day, she asked him if the Army could teach her to fix trucks. He said they could, so she spent the next six years with the Army Reserves as a heavy-duty mechanic.
At the age of 23, Smith attended truck driving school and began her career as a professional driver. Smith currently runs solo for a small fleet leased to Landstar Inway, hauling everything from caskets to ketchup with her International 9400 Eagle, but her dream, she says, is to drive Navistar’s Lonestar model. She said it’s another goal to attend the annual “Salute to Women Behind the Wheel,” held each spring at the Mid-America Trucking Show.
Smith joined Women In Trucking Assn. because she enjoys meeting fellow female drivers in the trucking business, who she refers to as her sisters.
The number of women who are professional drivers consists of only 5% of the industry and the number of black female drivers is even smaller, according to Women in Trucking statistics.
“I consider everyone the same, regardless of whether they are black or white, male or female, or young or old,” Shannon said.
“Shannon’s story has done more to show women that they can have a great career as a professional driver by sharing her story in O Magazine than this industry could have imagined,” said Ellen Voie, Women In Trucking’s president & CEO. Watch for Smith’s story in Laskas’ upcoming book, “Hidden America,” to be released in September by Putnam.
To read the full O article, go to http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Shannon-Sputter-Smith-Female-Truckers.