This week on Taking the Hire Road, Leah Shaver, president and CEO of The National Transportation Institute (NTI), is joined by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Robin Hutcheson.

“I have never shied away from hard jobs — they have an impact. But there hasn’t been a job where I’ve seen an impact like that of the seat I am currently sitting in because I get a voice in a space that really is the center of so many essential economic industries,” Hutcheson said. “I want everyone to understand that where you start isn’t always where you end. You should always have an open mind about your career.”

You also should be open to conversations with those on the front lines. With the help of the Women in Trucking Association, Hutcheson rode along with a female professional driver and was able to experience the challenges drivers face daily, including detention time, technology frustrations and delivery scheduling.  

“It was invaluable to just have a conversation with the driver and hear and experience these different challenges,” she said. “I also learned so much about the pride that drivers take in their work — probably the most indelible thing that I learned.” 

Women make up only 7% of the trucking industry. To bolster recruitment efforts, the FMCSA last year created the Women of Trucking Advisory Board, a 16-member committee made possible through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help women pursue careers in trucking as well as to expand training, outreach and scholarship opportunities.

“[These conversations] are highly important to talk about with women who can advise us on how we can make the profession safe and more secure for everyone that wants to be in the industry,” Hutcheson said. 

Another initiative underway at FMCSA is the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program, a three-year effort to assist individuals ages 18-20 in exploring interstate trucking careers. Also referred to as the Under 21 CDL Program, it could lead to reducing the minimum age for CDL holders who drive across state lines. 

Shaver noted that the number of applications that came in soon after the pilot launched last fall was disappointingly low. But Hutcheson said that’s changing.

“We set this up the best way possible. At the end of the day, this is also a research project and having enough participants in the program is one goal, but we also want to make sure we are collecting the right data to analyze and enhance the program,” Hutcheson said. “Because of this, the number [of applications is] growing every day.”

Click for more FreightWaves content by Britni Chisenall.

More from Taking the Hire Road:

Legal care as a tool for driver retention

Doubling down on drug testing

All things clearinghouse and compliance

The post Giving drivers a voice — Taking the Hire Road appeared first on FreightWaves.

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