REAL Drivers, REAL Issues
Empowered, Badass, Educator
Our goal is to empower drivers to take charge of their own careers and be the best, badass versions of themselves. We also aim to equip drivers with the knowledge and confidence they need to succeed and make their mark on the industry by providing education and resources that address the real issues they face.
We are veteran truck drivers committed to supporting women in the industry through our advocacy efforts.
Our mission is to deliver highway safety through leadership, mentorship, education, and advocacy.
As strong supporters of highway safety, we fully support the mission of delivering safety through leadership, mentorship, education, and advocacy. These pillars provide a comprehensive approach to ensuring that all drivers have the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to make our roads safer for everyone. We are confident that through this mission, we can make a meaningful impact on reducing accidents and saving lives on our highways.
REAL Women in Trucking encourages all drivers to unite and become advocates for the industry in order to improve the work and lifestyle environment.
Together, we have the power to create a better future for all drivers in the trucking industry. We can achieve positive outcomes by uniting and advocating for improvements in the work and lifestyle environment and ensuring everyone has access to the resources and support necessary to achieve their goals. We aim to bring attention to the challenges faced by female truckers and work towards creating positive changes in the industry.
RWIT in Washington DC Raising Awareness of Issues that Affect Truck Drivers
Free Trainings and Resources
Whether you're considering a career in trucking or are already a driver, there's always something new to learn. Whether it's items to pack when you're heading out on the road or questions you should be asking a potential employers, we've got your covered. Our REAL Women in Trucking members share their thoughts and suggestions here.
So, you’re interested in becoming a truck driver? WONDERFUL! Having your commercial driver’s license (CDL) can open up a world of opportunities: from cross-country long-haul trips to being home every night with your family, working for a carrier or being an owner-operator. The commercial trucking industry can be a good career. REAL Women in Trucking is committed to helping ladies find success as drivers.
There is limited space on a truck and your trainer will likely have most compartments occupied with their belongings. Pack light during your first six months because you may have to switch trucks and you need to be able to pack quickly and maybe travel on a bus or plane so do not accumulate things that you may have to leave behind. Use this list of basics as a guide
Questions you should be asking before selecting a training program and before selecting an employer:
☐ Is trainee pay guaranteed and what is the small print on that policy?
☐ How long is the training?
☐ Is the team driving a phase of training? If so, how long?
☐ What is the training pay for the 1st month, 3 Months, 6 months, 6-12 months?
We strive to make an impact in the lives of women truckers. And with your support, we can continue to grow our mission - to provide reliable resources for women truck drivers, and make a difference towards a safe space for women in the trucking industry.
What they say about us...
REAL Women in Trucking is a safe haven - most especially to the new female truck drivers. This is somewhere you can be heard.
The issues that the REAL Women in Trucking tackles are important not just for women but everybody in the community.
Idella M. Hansen
REAL Women In Trucking is about EDUCATION and to make a REAL difference.
Real Women in Trucking
Sexual assault/Sexual harassment (SASH) in trucking is a very specific issue that primarily affects new entrants to the industry and individuals from non-dominant groups who are vulnerable such as LGBTQIA+. Gender Based Violence and Harassment (GBVH) is intolerable in any work setting, this includes trucking.
Real Women in Trucking is represented by Peter Romer-Friedman Law PLLC, a public interest law firm, and Upturn, a non-profit that advances equity and justice in the design, governance, and use of technology, and that has previously published research on Facebook’s algorithmic bias.
Frequently Asked Questions
How often do I need to renew my license and how much does it cost? Will/should my employer pay for it?Your CDL will need to be renewed periodically depending on your state. It’s usually every two years. Your employer likely will not pay for it. CDL renewal is more expensive than a regular driver’s license. Check with your state DMV for pricing. You will also need a valid medical card to be a CDL A driver. You must only use a Medical Examiner listed in the FMCSA National Medical Examiner Registry , the cost varies depending on location and your CDL will be suspended if you let your medical card lapse. If you have a HazMat endorsement this will need to be renewed every two years and includes new fingerprinting and FBI background check. This takes time to complete so it’s important to plan according. Some employers will pay for this, but you should check in advance because there is no guarantee. Costs about $200.00.
What if I move?When you move, you will not need to take another written or driving skills test for your CDL. However, you will need to take refresher tests for any endorsements you have on your CDL. You may also need to show residency to qualify for a CDL in your new state. Check with your DMV as every state is different. If you move to another state you will have to redo your HazMat to move the endorsement.
I hear advertisements for dedicated driver, team driving, and solo driving. What’s the difference?Dedicated drivers run for one company that their carrier has a contract with. Dedicated routes are more consistent and often are “drop and hook” which are easier wait times since the trailer is already loaded and you do not have to wait for it to be unloaded. However, there are some hard dedicated accounts like Dollar General in which you will have to maneuver into a small store parking lot not designed for a 53 ft trailer and you will have to hand unload the trailer yourself. Make sure you understand all of the responsibilities you will have for a dedicated account. Team-driving means one driver sleeps while the other drives, and vice-versa. This is usually advertised as a very lucrative opportunity and can be for established teams like mothers/daughters or significant others. For individuals who are not on a team, companies will pair you up with another driver. Team driving is very dangerous and you must trust your team driver with your life. This will not be the case when you are a student driver just trying to get a paycheck. Companies that use students for team driving are utilizing a purely greed-based model since student truck drivers work cheap and do not realize how much risk they are taking. It is in team driving student fleets we get the most reports of sexual assault, sexual harassment, violent altercations between co-drivers and sometimes murder. We strongly discourage new drivers to do team driving. Though it is advertised as a lucrative opportunity this is often not the case. Learn to analyze recruiting ads that have a picture of a man and woman you perceive as a married couple and the ad says they made “up to” $55,000.00. What is doesn’t say is that they split that amount and since they are married, they have one household to support. If you are two unrelated people, you are taking a huge risk of team driving for $30,000.00/year and pay attention to the “up to” in recruiting ads. That phrase means you will likely not make that much. Solo driving is you and your truck on the open road. You are in control of your vehicle at all times. You can have peace of mind knowing you control where you start, stop, and sleep and for how long each day. There’s no need to worry about trying to sleep while the truck is in motion, nor are you relying on another’s judgement navigating any number of potential hazards including poor weather, construction sites, or animals. A week or two of team driving in the final part of your training can be a good experience, but it’s important to note that most instances of sexual harassment and sexual assault against women are reported in the early weeks of team-driving training. REAL Women in Trucking cautions women to consider the risks before committing to team-driving. Avoid training fleets like Covenant Transport, CR England, CRST Van Expedited, New Prime, Western Express, Us Xpress and others using the student team driving business model. (Google: Rape in Trucking to learn more)
Where should I go to CDL school?Check with your local community college. You will get better training that is likely less expensive than a private CDL school. The college's financial aid office can provide information about state and federal grants that may be available to offset some (or all) of your tuition. Some local unemployment offices offer grants for CDL training such as the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant. These grants can be used at various CDL training schools, but it is up to you to select a good school to use it by doing good research. Try to avoid CDL mill type schools, they are going to rush you through learning and the quality of the instruction is usually substandard. These CDL Schools are usually more expensive than a community college program. What about company sponsored training? We highly discourage company sponsored training due to the employer driven debt and the substandard training you will receive. In some of these companies they will require you to complete "team driving" for up to six months. this is where we see the most sexual assaults happen during training, but you will still get a bill for the tuition. We urge you to stay away from companies like New Prime, Covenant Transport, CRST Van Expedited, CR England, US Xpress, Western Express and any other starter company that will require team driving as a phase of training. Please read our letter to the Federal Trade Commission regarding employer driven debt in truck driver training to learn more about it. "RWIT Letter to the Federal Trade Commission Regarding Non-Compete Clauses in Trucking"
Class A, B, and C – what’s the difference and why does it matter?Each class (A, B, or C) represents the type of vehicle you will be certified to drive. Class is defined by weight or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). For example: Class A: Class A authorizes you to drive single vehicles or a combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds and haul trailers that exceed 10,000 pounds. This includes semis and tankers and generally these are the type of trucks used for long-haul. Class B: Allows drivers to operate a large single vehicle, including those with a GVWR over 26,000 lbs. or designed to transport 24 or more passengers including the driver. A Class B CDL also allows drivers to tow a vehicle or detachable cargo holder with a GVWR less than 10,001 pounds. Some examples of Class B vehicles include large buses, dump trucks with small trailers, delivery trucks and straight trucks. Class C: Single vehicles fewer than 26,001 pounds or towing a trailer with a GVWR fewer than 20,001 lbs. *Smaller delivery type trucks like Amazon do not require a CDL license.
What about company sponsored CDL training programs?Often, company sponsored CDL training programs require participants to sign a labor contract. If you do not complete the labor contract you may be blacklisted from being employed elsewhere and end up with a CDL that is useless. It’s imperative to research companies before you sign such a contract and make sure you keep a copy for your records. Company-sponsored CDL Training programs can be a lifeline for those experiencing homeless or are leaving a domestic violence situation where you need an immediate solution. That being said, we caution women who do select these training programs. Incidents of rape are reported most often when team driving is a required phase of this training. It's also important to know that truck drivers can be compensated by their employers for recruiting new trainees with little to no regard for your long-term success. We urge you to take the time to research companies you are considering for training. (Google: Rape in Trucking), read our letter to the Federal Trade Commission regarding Non Compete Clauses in Trucking that are employer driven debt TRAPs.
Do I need a high school or college diploma?A high school diploma or GED is required to become a CDL A driver.
Does it matter where I live?Yes. Many companies have hiring areas or regions they will or will not hire from. You should be aware of this before you set your heart on one company or the other. Additionally, getting home time and safe truck parking for your equipment will be easier if you live near a terminal. Some companies have terminals in several states, and we encourage you to research these in order to make an informed decision.
What’s the difference between a commercial driver’s license. (CDL) and a commercial driver’s permit (CLP)?A CLP is a learner’s permit, a CDL is the actual license. You may only hold one (1) CDL at a time. The terminology CDL’s as plural is incorrect. You should only have one CDL and refer to it as singular. Part of being a professional driver is learning the proper etiquette both on the road and correct terminology about the profession.
How much can I expect to make in my first-year driving?On average, we've found that first-year drivers can earn between $35,000 - $45,000. Unfortunately, this seems to contradict much of what's being advertised. Hopefully, you look at trucking as the opportunity for a long-term, financially sound career. During your first year you should focus on learning as much as possible and becoming a safe driver. This will greatly improve opportunities for you to move into a higher-paying job with a reputable carrier.
What if I don’t feel safe on my trainer’s truck?If you are in physical danger, always call 911 and/or local law enforcement. Sexual violence and harassment against women during truck driver training is, unfortunately, not uncommon. The perpetrator can be a trainer, fellow student, co-driver, CDL school staff, or in-house employee. Both men and women can commit sexual violence and harassment against women. It is not gender specific. If you have experienced sexual violence, harassment, or any behaviors that makes you feel unsafe make a written paper trail report to law enforcement, your safety depart and the Human Resources at your company. It is your legal right to contact law enforcement, even if your company tells you not to. It’s imperative for you to document EVERYTHING about the incident – emails, text messages, recordings, phone calls, and pictures as well as the responding officer’s name, phone number and case number of your complaint. Include all interactions you have with both your employer and the perpetrator. Avoid phone calls discussing the incident and if you do need to speak to someone on the telephone, we encourage you to record the conversation. Many times, reports like these end up being he said/she said and the more information you have to support your claim (i.e., a paper trail), the better. If you experience any kind of physical violence or assault, we also recommend you reaching out to RAINN at rainn.org or 800-656-HOPE. Visit our HELP page for additional resources.
What should I bring when I'm on the road?You can download this Travel Checklist for some suggestions on how to pack for training. It includes medications, clothing, shower shoes to a deck of cards. Our REAL Women in Trucking members have created this basic list to help ensure you'll pack efficiently and be prepared for your travels! If you are a student, pack light with just the basics. Here is a video by RWIT President Desiree Wood with some tips on what to pack for hygiene on the road.
How should I pick my training company?Find out how many hours the training company requires for your Certificate of Completion. Many CDL schools only give 160 hours which will not fill the requirement of the preferred starter company you have your eye on. Ideally, you will choose a 320- hour course though they are difficult to find at a private CDL School. You’ll want to find a starter company where you can stay put and drive for 1-2 years. This will demonstrate that you are insurable when it’s time for you to move on to a more experienced-level trucking company which ultimately, should pay more and have better benefits. For this reason, you should check out prospective starter companies first to learn what their hiring requirements are first before signing a contract for your CDL School. We strongly encourage ladies considering a career in trucking to avoid starter companies that require team driving as a phase of training. Higher instances of sexual assault and harassment have been directly linked to these work environments. We urge women to stay away from New Prime, Covenant Transport, CRST Van Expedited, CR England, US Xpress, Western Express just to name a few because we get the most reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment during training about these companies. (Google "Rape in Trucking" to read up on this)
Is there an age requirement to be a truck driver?You must be 18 years old to drive in-state with a CDL license. You must be 21 years old for interstate driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) currently has a national pilot program for CDL holders under 21. Check the FMCSA website to learn more.
If I have a Class A license, do I need a Class B and/or Class C if I’m driving one of those smaller vehicles?No. If you have a Class A license you can drive a Class B or Class C unless you are driving a passenger bus. In that case you will need a passenger endorsement on your Class A license.