Noting that women “may be the key to unlocking the driver shortage,” Ryder System Inc. will offer customers a female-friendly vehicle package for lease – the first of its kind in the industry, the company says.
With the help of various OEMs and Women in Trucking Assoc. (WIT), a non-profit organization established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, Ryder is making available a custom vehicle design, including 15 unique specifications, to better meet the needs of female drivers. These same ergonomic specifications will also provide a benefit for many male drivers in the industry, Ryder adds.
"Addressing driver comfort and truck cab design to accommodate the typically smaller stature of women is one of the issues where Women In Trucking Association is prompting changes,” said Ellen Voie, President and CEO, Women In Trucking. “We are so pleased to see Ryder's efforts in moving these ergonomic challenges into the forefront of the manufacturers' design changes.”
The ergonomic vehicles include features such as adjusted height and placement of cab grab handles, adjustable seatbelt shoulder straps, improved placement of dash cluster gauges, and better access to oil and coolant checks and fill ports. Upon customer request, and depending upon the OEM model of vehicle, Ryder can also include the following options:
- ergonomically designed seats and adjustable armrest;
- hood lift/closure assistance mechanism;
- automated transmissions;
- 5th Wheel configurations with lower pull pressures to open the locking mechanism;
- automated 5th wheel locking mechanisms;
- automatic landing gear operators for trailers; and
- a cab security system that offers personal protection while a driver is in his/her sleeper berth.
“Ryder is one of the largest purchasers of heavy duty trucks in North America and has a great deal of visibility into the needs of the professional truck driver,” said Steve Schmotzer, region fleet manager, PACCAR. “There really is no one in a more suitable position to provide feedback on this issue to manufacturers than Ryder. We are proud to support this initiative, which is critical to addressing a pressing industry need.”
Women may be the key to unlocking the driver shortage, which is currently estimated to be between 20,000 and 25,000 drivers, and expected to reach 239,000 by 2022, according to Ryder. Only five percent of professional truck drivers in the U.S. are women.
Ryder says the company is committed to identifying truck design gaps and influencing improvements in future vehicle designs that make driving a more attractive career option for women. For example, the company is currently encouraging OEMs to make adjustable foot pedal height a standard feature in future truck models. This is one item identified by female truck drivers as an important need according to a recent survey conducted by WIT.
“This custom truck package is not only more ergonomically friendly to women, but will also benefit other drivers with the same types of needs,” said Scott Perry, vice president of Supply Management and Global Fuel Products, Ryder. “Our intent is to not only help attract more women to the industry, but also to make the vehicles easier and safer for a broader range of drivers to operate. As an industry leader, we feel a responsibility to leverage our influence and find creative ways to deal with the professional truck driver shortage.”