KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids is intended to promote more women in the trucking industry.
The bill by Davids, who represents Kansas' third congressional district, would require the establishment of a board that would focus on creating opportunities for women in trucking.
The legislation comes at a time when the U.S. is still feeling the effects of a slowdown in the supply chain caused by the pandemic.
“Coming out of the pandemic, we’re seeing global supply chain breakdowns that are leading to rising costs and harmful shortages worldwide, from gas to groceries. The causes are complex, but one thing is clear: we’ve been dependent on materials made in other countries for far too long, and we haven’t been giving our transportation workforce and infrastructure the attention they need,” Representative Davids said in a statement. “That’s why I introduced a bill to encourage women to join the trucking industry."
According to the American Trucking Association, women make up 7% of all drivers in the trucking industry. As a whole, the organization says the driver shortage is currently at 80,000 and could climb to 160,000 by 2030.
"There's that vacancy in the middle between the retiring drivers and the drivers coming in and we're all paying the price right now," Traci Christian, a truck driving instructor, said.
Christian is an instructor at Johnson County Community College and a former driver who has noticed more women enrolling in courses related to the industry.
"I've had at least one female driver. The next class, out of six, two or three of them are going to be female drivers."
Lacey Snorgrass is a recent graduate who considers trucking a good career alternative.
"Having a backup plan is always great. I mean, not just transportation as far as big trucks, but my school district needs bus drivers everyday," Snorgrass said.
Christian said now is a good time to enter the trucking industry because of better training, pay and working conditions. The former trucker hopes more people respect the industry.
"It's an actual profession and it takes professional drivers to do it," Christian said.