The Acting Chief at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Robin Hutcheson recently stood in front of a Senate Committee relaying a newfound focus of the federal agency to recruit more women and younger drivers into the trucking workforce.
Hutcheson, who was unanimously approved by the Senate’s Transportation Committee as the nominee to lead the FMCSA full-time, detailed to a Senate Committee that an advisory board—the Women of Trucking Advisory Board—will be launched later in the year. This newly formed board will narrow its efforts on women entering the trucking workforce.
The FMCSA proceeding with this agenda aligns with the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law last November, and its provisions to address the lack of women and younger drivers in trucking.
As far as this new board goes, the FMCSA told Transport Topics that it expects announcing of the board’s members by the end of summer. The agency also asserts its in the process of a thoroughly reviewing candidates who can best reflect a cross section of the industry’s women.
The FMCSA also revealed to Transport Topics, the Woman of Trucking Advisory Board’s aims when it is fully up and running. The board will provide recommendations and respond to any workplace concerns women in the industry have. Such concerns may be career advancement, safety risks, workplace harassment or lacks of mentorship. In terms of bigger picture, the board also look to amplify women’s role in the industry through reviews and reports that advise policymakers and other regulators.
Stakeholders Approve of the New Board Amid Severe Driver Shortage
The notable lack of women, and new drivers in general, entering the workforce is an issue hemorrhaging a trucking industry in dire need of more commercial drivers. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) currently estimates there is an outstanding shortage of 80,000 truck drivers. While the ATA says there is no singular cause to this shortage, it asserts that women making up only 7 percent of all drivers is a primary factor.
The Biden Administration has tasked the Transportation and Labor departments, respectively, to propose new pathways into trucking for underrepresented demographics, like women. Officials of the White House have also praised the role the soon-to-be Women Trucking Advisory Board can serve and its potential to review and report on challenges woman drivers face as well as those interested in joining the profession.
Generally speaking, all industry stakeholders subscribe to the new board and its bottom line to recruit and retain female drivers. Transport Topics reports that the ATA and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are among notable endorsers of the board. Trucking is desperate to fill its labor void. Many experts believe adding on more drivers will assist with supply chain bottlenecks that have hampered the nation’s economy.
Aside from addressing a lack of women in the trucking workforce, the large infrastructure bill passed last year also includes provisions that aim to recruit and retain younger individuals as well. Last September, the FMCSA proposed the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program which would permit 18 to 20-year-old drivers (upon completion of probationary hours) to fully engage in interstate commerce. For a closer look into the this pilot program, check out our related blog.
Additionally, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team members if you have any further questions on this topic or any others in domestic logistics.