My, how times have changed! When I started driving in the early 1980s, trucks were so different than they are today. I can recall taking my driving exam. The examiner checked to make sure the lights worked and the truck actually had a seatbelt (the truck was used for tests because it was the only one that had a seatbelt that worked).

When I look back at my career, I marvel at all the ways trucks and truck stops have changed, particularly as more women have entered the trucking business. Here are my 6 favorite ways the industry has changed to accept, accommodate and acknowledge women.

Truck seats

Deb, who worked for a small oil field fleet where my husband, Bob, worked, taught me to drive an old two-stick Mack pulling an unbaffled water trailer. In those days, I had to carry a pillow with me when I knew I was going to drive. I used it to prop myself up. After all, the seat did not move and I could not reach the pedals without it.

It also was an amazing feat to use the mirrors. They were stationary, so we ladies had to adjust our bodies and necks to use them. In other words, we adjusted to the truck—the truck didn’t adjust to us.

But in 2017, within seconds I can adjust our truck seats from my husband’s position (He’s 6’3”) to one that suits me (I’m 5’4”). Even the vents for heating and cooling can be repositioned so that I am comfortable.

Truck hoods

In the 1980s, opening the hood took a supreme effort. A smaller-statured woman could often be seen dangling from the hood ornament trying to leverage her body to get the hood to move. Now with one hand, today’s hoods can be easily opened and closed by men and women alike.

Truck stop showers

While I do not go way back using truck stops, I know they have improved a lot since 2000. To me, the best parts are the showers and laundry rooms. Most of the truck stop chains have upgraded their showers to include better lighting and homey touches such as flowers and nice pictures on the walls. Many of the upgraded showers include lights in the shower as well as nice benches that make it a lot easier for women to see and shave our legs.

Bob and I favor the TA/Petro truck stops because they have in all their showers two bath towels, one hand cloth and one small towel, as well as a towel for the floor. The showerheads have been updated to the bigger showerheads, too, which make showering a blissful experience at times.

Truck stop public restrooms

Most notably, restrooms now have homey touches such as pictures and flowers. They often are decorated for the holidays, too. Many restrooms also have added a soap dispenser that has an abrasive cleaner for when we ladies have had our hands in oil and grease. Men have had this additional soap dispenser for years, but it is a recent addition to ladies restrooms.

It seems to be a humorous dichotomy, having the feminine decorating touches on one hand and the abrasive soap to get our hands cleaner on the other. But both are needed improvements.

Truck stop laundry rooms

In trucking’s earlier days, many of the smaller truck stops did not have laundry rooms. If they did, they consisted of one washer and dryer crammed into a small closet. Today, however, it is pretty common to see front-load washers and dryers, a table to fold clothes on and even a bar for hanging clothes.

The best upgrade is the ability for drivers to use our debit cards and receive a text alert when the washer or dryer is done. No longer must we carry quarters around or save every quarter we get back in change in a little baggy to be taken in with the laundry soap. We are able to start our clothes, set up the text alert and enjoy a nice meal while we wait.

Truck stop lighting

The lighting is a lot better in the truck stop parking areas today. That has made it safer for all, especially for women walking alone. I see women in all areas of trucking and they are getting the job done. We might not all do the job the same way, but we all reach the same goal: We move freight. I cannot think of a better way for women to make a living than what we are doing in trucking right now.

Linda Caffee is a team driver for Caffee Enterprises and president of Trucker Buddy International. She has worked as a full-time truck driver since 2005 and is an avid blogger. Follow her at Team Run Smart, The Onspot Blog and Expediters Online.

March is Women’s History Month. Drive My Way is proud to highlight women in the trucking industry who inspire and lead by their example. Join our community here to get these and all of Drive My Way’s stories in your newsfeed.


Want to find a job you love?

Drive My Way matches drivers with jobs based on their qualifications and lifestyle preferences.

Find Better Today