KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The U.S. Department of Labor is helping increase the number of women truckers.
According to Women In Trucking, there are 3.5 million truckers in the country, with women making up 6 percent of that number.
New Reflections Technical institute at 75th and Troost in South Kansas City specializes in Commercial Drivers License training.
Mark Byrd, CEO of New Reflections, requested and said his company was awarded a $300,000 grant in early April from the Labor Department to help more women get their Class-A CDL to become truckers.
The minimum age for men or women to become a trucker is 21 for over-the-road driving. Felons are welcome. The minimum age for local drivers is 18.
Byrd said companies are requesting more women because women are safer drivers, with cleaner driving records which means reduced insurance rates for those companies.
The grant to New Reflections will cover tuition, and in some cases day care, for women who are in training to get their CDL.
"We've probably had over the years 40 to 45 graduates that were women that are all successful and they're all making $70,000 to $80,000 a-year now," Byrd said. "None of them thought they could drive pretty much before."
There are day and night sessions at New Reflections. The program begins with two weeks in the classroom and four weeks on the driving course. New Reflections also helps place the women in a job.
Drivers potentially interested in enrolling can visit New Reflections' website for more information, or they can call (816) 361-5239.
Byrd recommends the training for women looking to make a career change and earn more money. Some women truckers said the pay and benefits are rewarding; but the long hours and time away from family can be draining.