After a long ramp-up, the Women of Trucking Advisory Board (WOTAB) is finally here. On Wednesday, WOTAB held its first meeting ever. The 16-member board held an online meeting that discussed the results of an FMCSA study about crime against women and minorities in trucking. It also discussed mixed-gender CMV training.
WOTAB was created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which passed last year. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who opened the WOTAB meeting, said that the U.S. can’t afford to keep women out of the trucking world. Currently, only around 7% of all truckers are women. As the U.S. continues to struggle to keep up supply chain volumes in a post-pandemic world, it needs all the help it can get. However, for more women to enter the trucking world, they’ll need to feel safe doing so.
WOTAB Meeting Tackles Crime Against Minority Truckers
The main focus of the meeting was a new FMCSA study about crime against women and minority truckers. The board heavily criticized the study, saying that its methodology had severe flaws. WOTAB member Anne Balay took issue with the fact that the study referred to its most serious offense as “touched inappropriately.” She claimed that the study used this kind of language to mask much more serious issues, like rape. In order to accurately represent its own findings, the study needed to use more accurate and severe language.
Mixed-Gender CMV Training Presentation Raises Questions
The other major topic the board discussed on Wednesday was mixed-gender CMV training. The process of training a new CMV driver can take some time. It also requires both trainers and trainees to be in close quarters for long stretches. These situations can put vulnerable people at risk, so WOTAB discussed ways to keep people safe.
One of the main ways the board suggested women could stay safe in these scenarios was to let them choose their trainers or trainees. Board members argued that, because of the long stretches of relative isolation with one other person, not wanting to train or be trained by a man was reasonable. The board also wanted to provide hotel accommodations for both trainers and trainees to eliminate sleeper cabin time.
The U.S. supply chain is in a tough position at the moment, with diesel prices high and seemingly everyone against it. A large part of the struggle the supply chain faces is a lack of capable and willing truckers. Having more women in the trucking world can only be a good thing for this country.