'Trucking Girl' Iwona Blecharczyk talks about the tech that's helping get women into truck driving
This year’s International Women's Day highlighted the importance of innovative tech in promoting gender equality and empowering women. To celebrate the day and learn more, we sat down with Iwona Blecharczyk, TomTom ambassador and truck driver, to understand how tech innovation is making the trucking industry more appealing and accessible to women.
Driving trucks has historically been a male-dominated profession. In Europe, only three percent of over-the-road (long-haul) truck drivers are women, while in the U.S. this percentage is slightly higher, around 7%.
Over the past few years, the proportion of women in the trucking industry has been steadily increasing. Inclusivity is more than a good corporate policy in the industry — it's mission-critical. Truckers, delivery drivers and other professional large vehicles drivers are an indispensable backbone to modern society. Technological innovation is essential to drive change in the industry by making it more appealing to every jobseeker.
Iwona, who has been driving trucks for over 10 years in Europe and the U.S., says technology has become an essential tool for truck drivers and is helping women in the industry overcome some unique challenges.
“Trucking has changed a lot over the last 20–25 years, and I believe it’s mostly because of technological development. You don’t need to be physically strong to drive a big, heavy-duty truck anymore,” she says.
Many modern trucks are equipped with advanced safety features, such as automatic braking, lane departure warnings and adaptive cruise control, which can help every professional driver feel more comfortable and confident behind the wheel.
The latest generation of trucks also includes an increased range of seat and wheel positions to provide the best ergonomics for every body type. Moreover, modern power assisted steering system lessens steering force by up to 85%, an innovation that becomes extremely important when having to steer in high winds.TomTom ambassador Iwona has been a professional truck driver for over 10 years and believe technology is making trucking more accessible to women and empowering them to join the industry.
Connectivity brings safety to life on the road
Connectivity is another critical aspect of life on the road. The rise of online platforms and apps has made it easier for truckers to find jobs, manage their routes and stay connected with family and friends while on the road. There are a variety of mobile apps available that can help truck drivers with everything from trip planning to communicating with their dispatchers. These apps can also help women drivers stay connected with their teams, also contributing to increased safety. In fact, some apps and online platforms can provide essential information on rest stops, pickup and drop-off locations and road security to women truck drivers, increasing their feeling of personal safety on the road.
“The internet is very useful as we can always look up the places we are going to. We also have cell phones and extremely fast communication now, which allows us to call our colleagues and ask about the place we are going to if they’re new for us,” Iwona adds.
Social media and online communities are very important for truck drivers to connect with each other and share information about the industry. They are especially helpful for women who are looking for support and advice from other drivers. By providing tools and resources that make it easier for women to navigate the job, stay connected and safe on the road, technology is helping break down the barriers that have traditionally kept women out of the industry.
“These days, the percentage of women working as professional truck drivers is higher and companies are actively seeking to hire women drivers. So, if you are curious and want to do it, just go for it. I’m pretty sure that you can make it happen, with no problem. If I can do it, you can do it as well.”
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