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8/11/2016 4:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Female-Friendly Equipment Prevents Injuries, Improves Ease of Use, Drivers, Suppliers Say

Debra Devine/Transport Topics
This story appears in the Aug. 8 print edition of Equipment & Maintenance Update, a supplement to Transport Topics.

To help attract and retain female drivers, a number of fleets and manufacturers are adding specialized equipment to help reduce injuries and minimize the amount of strength needed to complete certain tasks, which contribute to a better life on the road.

For example, Werner Enterprises, which is based in Omaha, Nebraska, equips its trucks with a fifth wheel release that allows the driver to disconnect the tractor from the trailer by touching a button in the cab instead of getting out of the truck and climbing underneath it.

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Felicia Berggren, an over-the-road professional driver with the company, said this specialized equipment has helped prevent injuries she experienced before having it. “I don’t know how many times I hurt my shoulder because it was hard to maneuver. Just being able to hit that button is so much easier,” she said.

About 10% of Werner’s driver base is female, which is about double the national average. Werner ranks No. 15 on the Transport Topics 2016 Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in the United States and Canada.

Brooke Mosley, the female driver liaison at Prime Inc., based in Springfield, Missouri, and No. 18 on the for-hire TT100, has found that the height of items within the sleeper can be a challenge for some women and has had female drivers fall trying to get into the top bunk. “There has to be some way to figure out how to pull something out from the wall or something that is safer for them,” she said.

The No. 1 source of injuries to drivers is a fall from the cab and the second source of injuries are related to adjusting the trailer’s landing gear, said Brian Kujala, director of sales for Grandville, Michigan-based Hadley, which manufactures SmartValve.

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By Mindy Long
Contributing Writer

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