In celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, Trucker Tools is highlighting female leaders in transportation throughout the entire month of March. We recently spoke with trucker Kim Loescher, a 14-year veteran of the industry, about her experiences as a female trucker and the changes she’s seen in the industry over the last 14 years. In our conversation, Kim also shared her thoughts on what the trucking industry can do to attract more women, and spoke to us about where she turns for inspiration and support.

Taking the Lead on Training Female Truckers

Kim has been a company driver with Ohio-based Classic Carriers for the last four years. She haulsreefer freight, including produce, cold storage and medical supplies, such as medical beds, tables and equipment. In addition to driving, Kim is a trainer with Classic Carriers and is part of a new training initiative within the company.

“Classic Carriers has started a new training program with a focus on bringing in female drivers and the younger generation,” Kim said. “I’m the only female trainer in the company. In fact, I’m on my way back to Ohio now to pick up a new female trainee who is coming out into the industry. There are more and more female drivers coming out here today. I like being a trainer because I can help other females out here. Being able to work with females and help them out here — I love doing that.”

“Classic Carriers has started a new training program with a focus on bringing in female drivers and the younger generation,” Kim said. “I’m the only female trainer in the company. In fact, I’m on my way back to Ohio now to pick up a new female trainee who is coming out into the industry. There are more and more female drivers coming out here today. I like being a trainer because I can help other females out here. Being able to work with females and help them out here — I love doing that.”

Kim told us that Classic Carriers also is focusing on recruiting people who are just out of high school or in their 20s to address the industry-wide driver shortage. She said that the company has partnered with a local driving school and will cover the tuition bill for students who have clean driving records.

On How Trucking Is Changing

“When I first started driving, it was very rare to see a woman out here, especially over the road,” Kim said. “Back then, you might see a female driving local or maybe in the office or something like that, but driving over the road, long haul — I didn’t see a lot of that. But now, every day I see women out here and it excites me because it’s like, we can do this, too. You just have to decide if you want to do it.”

Statistics support what Kim has seen herself on the road. Recent research conducted by the Women in Trucking Association and FreightWaves found that women today account for more than 10 percent of over the road truckers, an increase of nearly 30 percent over a one year period, 2018 to 2019. Women also make up 43 percent of the non-executive workforce in U.S. trucking companies, encompassing recruiting, management, dispatch, sales and administration positions. As Kim sees it, trucking companies are tuning into the needs of women drivers more, as well.

“I met a woman online recently who is nursing her baby in the truck now and the baby is in the truck with her while she’s working,” Kim shared with us. “She is an owner operator, but is still under someone’s authority. I just thought that it was so amazing that the company allowed that. I give them props. That tells you that things are definitely changing out here, and I think it’s for the better.” 

“I met a woman online recently who is nursing her baby in the truck now and the baby is in the truck with her while she’s working,” Kim shared with us. “She is an owner operator, but is still under someone’s authority. I just thought that it was so amazing that the company allowed that. I give them props. That tells you that things are definitely changing out here, and I think it’s for the better.” 

Challenges That Remain for Female Truckers

When we asked Kim how the trucking industry can attract more female professionals, she told us that addressing two key issues for women drivers would help, those being adequate home time and safety on the road. 

“There are a lot of sacrifices that come along with this job,” Kim shared. “I think one of the big things for us women drivers is that we still want to be with our families. We value our family time. My kids are grown now, but not having enough home time was very difficult for me when I first started out. I think that’s important to women drivers who value their family time or still have family at home. Some of them are single moms out here and still have their kids at home that they’re still supporting and trying to take care of.”

Safety remains a top issue for female truckers, says Kim. In her time as a trucker, Kim says she’s dealt with sexual comments from male truckers and from customers. She told us she has had strangers leave their phone numbers on her windshield. Kim recently had an experience on the road that frightened her and resulted in her filing a police report. While she was sleeping at a rest area, a stranger tried to get into her truck twice and pounded on her truck to try to get her to come out of her truck. 

“In all my years of driving, I’ve never had an incident like that where I really was scared,” Kim said. “I didn’t leave because it was in the middle of the night and I knew I would not find parking anywhere and would be stuck on a ramp somewhere, and that’s definitely not safe. When they tried the second time to get in, I saw the person running off behind my trailer because I hit my brake light, so I just laid on my air horn. They didn’t bother me anymore that night. Safety out here is a big thing.”

Inspiration and Support

Kim told us that her mother and father have been sources of inspiration for her throughout her career and in her life. Her father was a OTR trucker and when Kim first got her CDL, she and her father went on the road together as a team. 

“My mother was a big inspiration to me, too,” Kim shared. “She was a hard worker and worked in the steel mill in a male-dominated field. She encouraged a strong work ethic with me. I do have some female truck drivers out here who I follow. Jacinda Lady Truck’n is one of those that I follow and she encourages me in a lot of different ways. I look up to her and what she does. I love seeing the women out here who stick together and encourage each other. I’ve met a lot of women along the way on social media and hearing all of their different stories is just so awesome.” 

Kim told us that she also draws inspiration from online social media groups for female truckers, including She Trucking and Real Women in Trucking, which she’s planning to join soon. According to Kim, you have to be mentally, physically and emotionally strong to be a female trucker and having a strong support system is an important part of that. 

To learn more about Kim, read Meet Second Generation Trucker and Breast Cancer Survivor Kim Loescher. To download Trucker Tools’ free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/