WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — A Polk County trucking company is tapping into an untapped workforce amid a national driver shortage.
Sherita Brown comes from a family of truckers. “My grandfather and my uncles all drive trucks,” Brown said.
Now she is doing something that no woman in her family has done.
“I will be the first woman in my family to drive a tractor-trailer with my Class A CDL licence,” she said.
Brown will soon be graduating from FleetForce Truck Driving School in Winter Haven. The company is focused on training more women to get behind the wheel of a big truck.
According to the American Trucking Associations, the industry was short of a record 80,000 drivers in 2021. FleetForce said hiring women would help address the driver shortage.
“Some of the benefits for many companies are that women don’t generally call as much, they’re also much safer drivers. They’re easier to insure, and they’re much more aware and careful,” said Jason Grammes, FleetForce Senior Instructor.
More than 25% of students enrolled in the driving school are women. Instructor Greta Simmonds remembers that when she was on the road, very few truckers looked like her.
“There weren’t many at the time. When I got there, I would be a surprise to different people when I stopped at a shipper,” Simmonds said.
She is now training a new generation of female drivers, who continue to be vastly underrepresented in the trucking industry.
“You don’t have to stick to what the world says a woman should be. Women can be truckers,” Brown said.