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Winter Haven truck driving school recruiting women to ease trucker shortage

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Posted at 6:47 PM, Sep 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-12 18:47:12-04

WINTER HAVEN, Fla.  — A Polk County trucking company is reaching out to an untapped workforce amid a national shortage of drivers.

Sherita Brown comes from a family of truck drivers. "My grandfather and my uncles all drive trucks," said Brown.

Now she is doing something no woman in her family has done.

"I'll be the first female in my family to be driving a semi-truck with my CDL Class A license,” she said.

Brown will soon be graduating from FleetForce Truck Driving School in Winter Haven. The company is focusing on training more women to get behind the wheel of a big rig.

According to the American Trucking Associations, the industry was short a record 80,000 drivers in 2021. FleetForce said recruiting women will help address the driver shortage.

"Some of the benefits for a lot of companies is that women typically don't call out as much, they're also a lot safer drivers. They're easier to insure, and they're a lot more conscious and careful," said FleetForce lead instructor Jason Grammes.

More than 25% of students enrolled in the driving school are women. Instructor Greta Simmonds remembers when she was on the road, very few truck drivers looked like her.

“There weren't many out there at the time. When I got out there, I would be a surprise to different people when I pulled up to a shipper,” Simmonds said.

Now she is training a new generation of women drivers, who continue to be overwhelmingly under-represented within the trucking industry.

“You don’t have to stick to what the world says a woman needs to be. Women can be truckers,” said Brown.