by Sean Kilcarr, editor

seanAn estimated 200,000 female truck drivers guiding big rigs up and down our nation’s asphalt ribbons make up roughly 5.2% of the overall truck driver population in the U.S. Finally, a new effort is underway to craft more “female-friendly” truck specs to make their work lives easier.

Ryder System is joining forces with the nonprofit group Women In Trucking (WIT) to design what they’re calling more “female-ergonomic” truck cabs in an effort to make the truck driver career more appealing to women. Using research conducted for WIT in partnership with

Jeanette Kersten, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, WI, Ryder is identifying “custom vehicle designs” that better fit the needs of female drivers.

Kersten specifically assessed truck cab design and the driving experience for women, highlighting the fact that the average female driver is 6 in. shorter and 50 lbs. lighter than male drivers. She noted that physical discrepancy can create issues for female drivers operating trucks designed and built for men, e.g., easy access to the pedals and maximum visibility of the gauges.

Will this effort increase the appeal of piloting big rigs among women? More importantly, will fleets buy trucks spec’d in a “female-friendly” fashion? We’ll need to stay tuned to see.