Statistically, women are safer truck drivers, but finding travel facilities that women feel safe at can be hard. And safety is one of the top worries for women drivers and those considering a driving career. This month, the American Trucking Associations' Women in Motion partnered with the driver app Trucker Path to help current drivers find the safest facilities across the nation.
After speaking with dozens of female drivers who competed and attended the recent Iowa Truck Driving Championships, Women in Motion Co-chair Brenda Neville said she heard the same thing repeatedly. "The No. 1 issue that kept coming up was safety—they wanted to go somewhere they felt safe," she told FleetOwner during a press event at ATA's 2023 Management Conference & Exhibition in Austin, Texas.
Women drivers make up 12.1% of professional drivers, according to the 2023 Women In Trucking Index. Truck parking was also the No. 2 overall concern among industry stakeholders in the American Transportation Research Institute's 2023 Top Industry Issues report, which was issued during the conference.
Women drivers are looking for well-lit parking, easy access to bathrooms, security, and Internet access, according to Neville, who is president and CEO of the Iowa Motor Truck Association.
"It's amazing what any driver has to deal with when they're trying to park," Neville added. "It's not only that there is a shortage—but if you really look at some of these places across the United States, some are not the most secure either."
How Trucker Path users can find safe, secure facilities
Trucker Path is adding new features to its mobile truck navigation app to help female drivers find safer, secure truck parking nationwide. Facilities that meet seven safety criteria will be marked with the Women in Motion logo within the app.
The facilities must feature lighted parking, lighted bathroom access, lighted lounge areas, lighted shower facilities with 24/7 access, lighted laundry facilities with 24/7 access, 24/7 maintenance, and onsite security.
The app also encourages drivers to share updates on facility conditions to keep fellow drivers aware.
"We try to put as much of that information in their hands—and it's done through crowdsourcing," Chris Oliver, Trucker Path CMO, said in Austin. "I use the term community really often when I speak about the Trucker Path users because all of the information and data that we collect is derived from users—and they know that."
The Trucker Path community boasts about one million users, 9% of whom are female. When a driver using the app enters one of about 20,000 truck parking locations across the country, the app asks the driver a question to gauge how much parking is available. "When you have a million people telling you that all the time, it starts to become very actionable," Oliver said.
Along with parking availability, drivers can find fuel prices and weigh station status. Drivers can also leave reviews about truck stops.
"It's kind of serendipitous because Trucker Path was born to help drivers find truckstops," Oliver said of the partnership with Women in Motion. "That was the very first functionality that we offered, so this just lined up perfectly."
ATA President and Chief Executive Chris Spear said the federation is committed to bringing more women into the trucking industry. "This partnership between Women in Motion and Trucker Path is a way to address one of the persistent concerns women in trucking express—safety. Helping women drivers identify truck parking facilities with essential amenities like lighted parking, bathroom access, and onsite security will play a role in addressing this longtime challenge for our industry."