The future is bright for women in the trucking industry, as for all younger drivers. That is according to Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, president and CEO of Garner Trucking as well immediate past chair of the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
Brumbaugh joined host Jeremy Reymer, CEO and founder of DriverReach, on this episode of Taking the Hire Road to share her thoughts on creating a more diverse industry as well as how to attract the next generation of drivers.
Brumbaugh ascended to the position of ATA chair last year — only the second woman to serve in that role — after spending nearly 30 years in trucking, but her roots in trucking go much deeper. Big rigs were a big part of her childhood, as she spent countless hours in the cab with her father, Vern Garner, who also served as ATA chair from 2002-2003.
“There are a lot of women like me that are father/daughters [truckers],” Brumbaugh said of women in the industry today. “There’s no [glass] ceiling to crack anymore; it’s broken. We just need to step forward.”
Brumbaugh hopes her position and power in trucking help inspire other women to see that there’s a path for them in the industry; all they have to do is aim high. She said that when she was growing up, there weren’t that many women in leading positions in the industry. Brumbaugh credits her passion for introducing trucking to a larger, younger audience to her parents, who found association leadership important in showing the next generation the ropes.
Brumbaugh told Reymer that she absolutely supports the DRIVE-Safe Act, the legislation introduced to allow qualified drivers under the age of 21 to drive interstate routes through a robust apprenticeship program. Currently, commercial drivers between the ages of 18 and 21 are only allowed intrastate jobs.
“Is it the end all be all? No, it’s just one of the tools, one of the resources or regulations that we could use to effect change in our industry,” Brumbaugh said, adding that Garner has had an apprenticeship program for many years.
She also said focusing on technology improvements is key to attracting younger drivers, as younger generations are more tech-savvy. She suggested driver assist technology may be a game changer.
“The trucking industry for most is a second career choice; it needs to become the first career choice,” Brumbaugh said, referring to driver salaries. She said there are great opportunities and wage potential today, but it’s something that the industry really needs to promote to younger audiences.
About our sponsor
Netradyne creates solutions for real-world problems using computer vision and deep learning technologies. Its mission is to transform road and fleet safety through advanced vision technology to change the way drivers interact with the road around them, creating safer roadways in the process.
More from Taking the Hire Road: