Women are increasingly joining the deadly world of truck driving Mar11


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Women are increasingly joining the deadly world of truck driving

YUMA, Ariz. — Ingrid Brown had already piloted her big rig from the maddening rush-hour traffic of Southern California to the desert vistas of Arizona when she pulled into the grimy freight terminal.

A chorus of idling diesel engines rumbled as rows of male truckers whiled away time in their cabs, waiting for their refrigerated trailers to be filled with pallets of lettuce, green onions, cilantro, parsley and other produce.

Never one to fade into the crowd, 5-foot 2-inch Brown, dressed in blue jeans and a green plaid shirt, hopped out of her 80-foot-long truck and marched into the chilly warehouse. She watched a gang of men wearing thick parkas and steering forklifts, silently willing them to load her trailer, headed East. Brown, 57, was the only woman in sight.

And so went her day. After repeating the process at three other terminals, Brown let out a sigh of satisfaction: Her truck was full. She was ready for the road.

Brown is a cross-country big-rig driver, a veteran in a field that is increasingly hoping to attract more women at a time when the industry faces a steep worker shortage as it tries to keep up with America’s crushing demand for goods, from steaks to big-screen TVs. The American Trucking Associations estimated a shortage of about 60,000 drivers at the end of 2018, prompting trucking firms to seek out new pools of recruits, whether its veterans, immigrants or women.

For men on the road, life is tough, but for women, it’s harder. Far from family and friends, they are forced to grapple with sexism, sexual harassment, personal safety, hygiene and an overall trucker lifestyle associated with poor health while trying to turn a space the size of a backyard shed into a rolling home on wheels, sometimes for weeks per outing.

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