Sharae Moore is a trucker based in Chattanooga, Tenn., who is the founder of She Trucking, an online community for women in the trucking industry with more than 5,000 members. In addition to managing She Trucking, Sharae is an instructor at Chattanooga State Community College where she teaches CDL classes.
Trucker Tools recently spoke with Sharae about her recommendations for new drivers and how technology-based solutions like the Trucker Tools free driver app can help new truckers build their businesses. Sharae also spoke to us about why she started She Trucking and the resources that the organization provides to women in the industry.
Can you tell us about how you got into trucking?
“I’ve been driving for six years. I got into trucking when I saw a newspaper ad for free CDL training. I ended up going to Swift’s CDL school and went through their sponsorship program. I had heard about people getting their CDLs and driving trucks from family members and friends who had experience driving. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into at the time. (Laughing.) I didn’t know exactly what it was. Swift paid for the schooling and training and I worked for them for a year in return. It was worth it, going through that process.
Part of why I got into trucking was to travel and see more of the United States. Where I live, I’m surrounded by mountains. I was curious about what’s on the other side of those mountains. So the travel and exploring appealed to me and so did the wages. I was a CNA making maybe $10,000/year before and then started making $40,000/year in trucking and that made a real difference in my life. So that was very appealing to me, as well.”
Do you teach CDL classes now? How did you get into teaching?
“Yes, I’m currently at Chattanooga State Community College. It’s a college here locally in Tennessee. I started out volunteering at the school, as I was OTR. I would come home and work with women drivers at the college doing things like helping them adjust their seats or helping them back up. Because, you know, I’m five foot three inches. The way I see things is different from the way that a person who is six feet tall sees things looking in the mirror. I volunteered at the college for about two years. The school would call me if they had drivers (women or men) who were struggling. Then they offered me an opportunity to become a full-time instructor.”
What tips do you have for new drivers who are just coming out of CDL school?
“My first tip for new drivers is to have an open mind because this is a different type of career. It’s not a ‘9 to 5’ job. Trucking is a lifestyle. I tell new drivers to come in with a pencil and paper and be ready to learn. A lot of new drivers have assumptions about this industry, but they don’t really know – they have to learn what we really do in this industry and how it really controls your life.
I suggest that new drivers research companies to learn about them. You can literally Google companies to learn about them and read what their drivers have to say about them. Beyond choosing an employer — even when you’re an experienced driver, if you’re going into shippers, it’s important to Google that company so that you know where the truck parking is and how to get in, for safety reasons, and so you won’t make mistakes and can stay safe on the road.
I think just paying attention and having an open mind is the most important thing. Also, being prepared. For example, right now, it’s wintertime, so you need to have some nice protective gloves and shoes that are good on ice. Also, bring baby wipes, especially if you’re a woman driver (laughing). I recommend that new drivers find a mentor, as well. Having someone in the industry as your mentor can help you and your career. A mentor can help you become strong and successful in the industry.”
What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions that new drivers may have about trucking?
“They think it’s easy. And it’s like, no, this is a skill that you learn over time. You have to go through the process. I see a lot of people come into the industry who don’t realize that it’s a process to learn how to be a trucker. They think you can just get in and move very fast.
I tell a lot of people who are new in the industry to slow down. I encourage new drivers coming into this industry to take every opportunity that they can to learn. Don’t rush your training process because that’s going to be the most valuable part of your career. Some people expect three weeks of training and they want to get out in three weeks. They get very upset if they have to be in school for longer than that. The school that I work at, CDL training takes seven weeks. We make sure that new drivers have a lot of training.”
Are there any particular tools that you recommend for new drivers or that you wish you’d had as a new driver?
“I love the Trucker Tools driver app. I began using the Trucker Tools driver app within my first year in trucking. It really helped me a lot with finding truck stops and rest areas. That’s our biggest challenge as truckers — finding places to park. Hours of service are tracked with ELDs, so it’s mandatory for us to find places to park. Having access to apps like the Trucker Tools driver app makes the job easier. Trucker Tools’ driver app makes it easy to navigate with a click of a button. I wish there’d been more apps like it when I first started driving.
Also, truck parking apps are great when you’re headed home. New drivers often don’t realize until they get home that they don’t have a parking spot. Most people don’t think of that. They just think I need to get my CDL. And then they come with a 53-foot trailer attached to a truck and don’t know what to do with it. So finding not only a place to park but a safe place to park when you’re on home time and also when you’re on the road.”
What are your favorite features in the Trucker Tools’ driver app?
“As I mentioned before, I love the truck stop and rest area features in the driver app. They’re really nice tools. They’re so helpful for drivers in this industry.
I like the axle weight calculator. It’s a very helpful tool and it’s different from weigh scales. A lot of the time, they’ll tell us what our steer tires weigh, but they don’t tell us what our drive tires and trailer tires weigh. I like that you can just key it in and balance your weight from the app. That’s a very, very helpful tool for most drivers.
I also like the load boards. With a click of a button, owner-operators can click a button and book a load. Also, the navigation and being able to track the load is awesome. I think that the load tracking included in the Trucker Tools driver app is really good as far as safety. I think it makes a lot of drivers feel safer when hauling high-value freight.”
Can you name three specific features in the Trucker Tools’ driver app that you recommend for new drivers?
“There are a lot of great services included in the Trucker Tools app that new drivers can use and definitely should take advantage of. A lot of drivers want to know where the nearest Walmart is located so that they can shop for food, supplies, linens and stuff like that for their trucks. So I recommend the Walmart locator within the Trucker Tools driver app.
The truck wash feature is excellent, as well, especially if you drive a refrigerated truck because you have to wash your trailer often. I love the medical examiner feature on the app, too. If new drivers are sick, they can use that feature to find nearby help. That was something we didn’t have in the past. In the past, it felt like you were just kind of out on your own in the world and all you could really do is call 911. But now with the click of a button, you can find a healthcare facility. The driver app also has tools for owner-operators that help them stay compliant and save money on fuel.”
What are the biggest challenges that truckers face today?
“The biggest challenge that truckers, in general, are facing and what I hear them talk about constantly is being unemployed…unemployment. The industry is changing. A lot of truckers are afraid of what is going to come, whether their jobs are on the line. In 2019, a lot of trucking companies went out of business. I’ve never seen so many companies shut down before. People are losing their jobs.”
How can truckers continue to be successful while facing these challenges?
“What can help is staying educated and learning to use new technology. Taking those opportunities and steps when your employer says, ‘We’re moving to a digital system.’ Learning how to use new technology will help keep truckers employed. You’ll kind of get weeded out if you don’t keep up with technology.
We just did a poll in She Trucking to find out the average age of those getting into this industry. The poll showed that women in the 20 to 40-year-old range are the ones joining the industry. That’s what’s going to keep the industry going, having people in that age range enter the industry who grew up using computers. I’m 35, myself, and I grew up using computers. Anything with a computer, I can pretty much master it and I can keep up with technology and how it’s changing. And I think that’s what’s going to continue to move the industry forward.
You really have to educate yourself and do research to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry. You can keep up with what’s going on in the industry in terms of compliance and hours of service rules by researching and reading articles. Doing so helps keep carriers in the driver’s seat. Spending less is also important when you don’t know what the future holds. You may have to scale back and save more to be able to survive through those rainy days and keep going with running your business. We faced a lot of rainy days in 2019.”
What specific challenges do women face in the trucking industry?
“The biggest challenge women face right now is not being protected from sexual harassment in this industry, especially during training. Unfortunately, when situations like that happen, there often aren’t any consequences. Most of the drivers can keep driving or they can stay with the company and a lot of the time the female loses her job for reporting the situation. I just feel like women should be more protected in this industry. I mean, in corporate America, that’s not tolerated. So I don’t understand why it’s tolerated in the trucking community.
I think that’s the biggest challenge that women face and I get calls all the time about it. Right before Christmas, I picked a lady up and took her to the bus station to get her off the truck she was on. I get a call at least once a month from women drivers who are having these types of issues and nothing is being done to address this.
More conversations should be going on about this. No one should be raped or harassed — this is a career, it’s not just a job. This is not just a hobby, you know. You should feel safe in your career. You should be respected in your career. It’s a really big challenge as one of the leaders in the industry to find ways to help. The only thing we really can do is help navigate women to safety when they’re experiencing harassment or assault. We don’t have any tools or resources.”
Tell us about She Trucking and the role that the organization plays in the trucker community.
“I started She Trucking as a clothing line because I couldn’t find any tee-shirts that said
‘Lady Truck Driver.’ I actually started making the shirts myself because I wanted women to be proud of being in this industry as women and proud of their jobs, proud of what we do. Through the response that I received on the apparel, I formed the group, the community that is the She Trucking sisterhood, because I realized that a lot of women need support. A lot of women had questions and I wanted to create a safe place for them to come and feel comfortable asking questions.
I realized, too, myself, that I didn’t know any women drivers when I first started driving. So I thought it would be awesome to form that community where you could have a sense of family out on the road even though you’re working by yourself. In two years, She Trucking has grown to 5,700 women drivers. It’s really amazing how the women of She Trucking have become mentors to each other. They encourage each other and help train each other, as well.
A lot of women ask questions like, ‘What are the best starter companies to drive for?’ A lot of people want to be trained by a woman driver. We have a mentorship program in the group where women can pair up and team drive together. And our community continues to grow.”
Why do you think women in trucking have had such a strong, positive response to She Trucking?
“As women, we’re always looking for people to relate to. We’re women. We’re natural feelers, creatures who want companionship and want support. I think as women, we’re always looking for that sisterhood, that bond. And that bond that connects us to each other is trucking.
The response has surprised me because when I started the group, I didn’t see or know a lot of women drivers. Even though I was on the road, I saw a woman driver only maybe once a month. Today, we have more than 5,000 members in the She Trucking community and you know, five or six years ago, that wouldn’t have been there. When I graduated from CDL class, there was only one other woman in the class and I don’t think she ended up getting her CDL, to be honest. Until recently, women truckers have been few and far between. Today, you see a woman driver in every other truck. It’s also been surprising to me how social media can make a difference in bringing people together.”
Sharae Moore is the founder and owner of She Trucking, an online community for women in the trucking industry. To learn more about Sharae and She Trucking, visit https://www.shetrucking.com.
To download Trucker Tools’ free mobile driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/carriers/.