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From hiring to navigating the road, “everything about trucking is a math problem”

A truck used by driver Kellylynn McLaughlin. Courtesy Kellylynn McLaughlin

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Trucking is a vital component to many industries. But the transportation industry is struggling to fill nearly 60,000 empty drivers seats, and that struggle poses a threat to businesses and consumers.

Lately the industry is hoping to recruit more female truck drivers. While women comprise nearly half of the labor force, they makeup less than 10% of truck drivers, according to the American Trucking Associations.

Kellylynn McLaughlin, an over-the-road driver and training engineer with Schneider National, is also an ambassador for Women in Trucking, an organization advocating for women in the industry. McLaughlin trains new drivers for her company and spends days on the road, seeing firsthand how many parts of the economy work.

Kellylynn McLaughlin in her truck (Courtesy Kellylynn McLaughlin).

My name is Kellylynn McLaughlin, and I’m a truck driver.

Everything about trucking is a math problem and as you go down the road, your math problem changes. The obstacles, the driving conditions, how you articulate around corners or back up. It’s all math and I enjoy solving those problems.

I take students out as part of my job as a training engineer with Schneider, and I typically have each student for about a week. My work weeks are 70-hour weeks, they’re long, 14-hour days, typically. And I’m teaching [students] how to do customer service and live on the road, and it’s a challenge.

We’re short on drivers in our country. There’s lots of opportunity for jobs and women should consider this as a profession. Really and truly, if you have your commercial driving license, you can get a job. The majority of the people that I train are men. They come from all different walks of life, the men and the women. Some have PhDs, some have masters, some are tired of working in the office. Some are struggling, and they’re just looking for a job to be able to provide something for their family. Others are bored with life and they just want to get out there and have some independence and see the country. And driving is a great place to do that.

Our highway infrastructure is old, a little bit dated. It was built at a time when we didn’t have as many trucks on the road. So it hasn’t kept up with that, they haven’t built new places for us. But yet, they still want us to deliver everything on time. I realized that trucking is the blood that runs through our country. Our country can’t survive without it. And everything in our homes and our offices, all of it comes to us on a truck at some point in time, and I underestimated and took that for granted.

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