NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Getting goods from point A to point B has become increasingly difficult over the last few years with driver shortages, the pandemic and supply chain jams.
The owners of a driving school in Newport News told 13News Now there’s a different group taking on the challenge.
Whether operating box trucks, or big rigs, more women are getting behind the wheel.
“I got into the field, and I realized I love what I do,” said Serita Lockley.
Serita Lockley tackled the open road and made it a career. She started Lady Lockley’s Trucking in Newport News.
“Women are definitely getting into trucking,” Lockley said. “I feel it is amazing because you really don’t expect women to drive big trucks.”
Driver shortages in the trucking industry grow every year.
Lockley wants women to help fill those gaps. She’s brought candidates to Dudley’s Driver Center, down the road from her business.
“We have different training,” said co-owner Thomas Dudley. “We have dump trucks, we have semi-trucks and we also recently acquired a school bus.”
The pandemic and supply chain issues have added more fuel to the staffing fire, but Dudley said more women are getting their Commercial Driver’s License.
“We actually have a lot of students now that are registering that are women,” Dudley said.
Out of more than 3 million truck drivers in the U.S., the Women in Trucking Association reports only 10 percent are women.
“I think in the beginning it is kind of scary because you are so used to driving a regular car every day,” Dudley said. “So, you get into this big ol' truck and you are like oh my, how am I going to do this? But you can really do this.”
Practice makes perfect and instructors at Dudley’s help you get comfortable in the cab.
“The CDL test requires three portions, first you have your pre-trip,” said Lead Instructor Emanuell Robertson. “The second part would be the break test. The third part would be maneuvers.”
Robertson said women are taking over.
“It’s a male-dominated industry, that is what they say,” Robertson said. “But the females are more driven, they have more passion, and their pass rate is almost 100 percent.”
Flexible options and pay can come with a CDL.
“You can easily get a CDL and start from $50,000 up to $100,000 depending on what process you do,” Dudley said. “You can be a driver, you can be a broker, dispatch.
Dudley is proud to help women jump into this field through the school his grandmother, Sadie Bel Howard Dudley, created in 1959.
“She was definitely a person that really cared about the community, and I know, she would definitely be excited if she could see that and I know she is still looking,” Dudley said.
As the trucker stereotype changes, Lockley hopes more women will hit the road.
“You can go really far in the trucking industry and from being a driver, to being an owner/operator to being a CEO, the options are limitless,” Lockley said.
The American Trucker’s Association estimates the industry is short about 80,000 drivers right now.