A 20-year veteran woman truck driver and trainer with J.B. Hunt, Jodi Edwards is living her dream. And with more than a million safe miles under her belt, she’s as accomplished as she is enthusiastic about her career. After all, J.B. Hunt has even put her face on a billboard. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.
At J.B. Hunt, Edwards is a star, and she’s earned many accolades throughout her driving career. She’s on the Women in Trucking Image Team. She was part of a panel discussion at the Women in Trucking Accelerate! Conference in November. She was even a Woman in Trucking Member of the Month.
All of the awards are gratifying, Edwards says. But she’s proudest of her Million Mile Award.
“That’s a heck of an achievement,” Edwards says. Edwards attributes her stellar safety record to J.B. Hunt’s strong safety culture and the Smith safety system the company uses. J.B. Hunt drivers go through Smith System safety training every two years.
The system focuses on creating distance between yourself and other vehicles on the road.
“You want to have so many seconds of distance between you and what’s in front of you,” Edwards says. “They want you to know what’s in front of you and to keep space around you all the time. It gives you time to react and make changes, to slow down, stop or find a way around the problem. For myself, I keep as much of a space cushion around my truck as I can. I try not to travel in packs because if someone is going to screw up, it gives me time to stop.”
When she earned her Million Mile Award, J.B. Hunt awarded Edwards with a plaque, a watch, a $5,000 bonus and patches for her uniform. It made her feel special. “When you have these milestones, they really make a big deal of it,” Edwards says. “They really go above and beyond.”
Working on and off the road
Edwards runs intermodal for J.B. Hunt. She’s seen the division grow from three drivers 19 years ago to 35 drivers today. She runs from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. While her son is 23 years old now, the schedule long gave Edwards the flexibility to be a hands-on mom.
“When my son was in school I could go to all his baseball games, wrestling matches and basketball games,” she says. “For me, when I need to do something for my family, I talk to my boss and I’m good to go. At J.B. Hunt, they know you by name. That’s important to me. It’s a great company to work for. That’s why I’ve never wanted to go anywhere else.”
Advice for other female drivers
While Edwards is an unofficial ambassador for J.B. Hunt through her love of her job, she also is quick to support fellow women drivers whenever she has the opportunity. To women just starting out, she recommends finding a highly rated trucking school.
“Have them teach you something,” she says. “Always be safe but allow yourself to enjoy it, too. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re by yourself in a dark parking lot. Take care of what you got to take care of in the light of day. If you’re going to do it, do it right. And find yourself a good company you can stay with. Because it’s not just a job, it’s a career.”
It certainly is for Edwards. She plans to stay with J.B. Hunt until she retires.
“I’m happy here,” she says.
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