By Sandy Long
In my work with new and prospective drivers, I talk to a lot of women who want to become truckers. Almost everyone of them are concerned about being raped, robbed or killed, no, not by some psychopath from whatever town they are in or someone in a car, but by a brother driver. This in a way bothers me. Could a brother driver be a psychopath? Certainly. There have been male truckers that have raped women or even killed them though I have heard of very few victims that have been female drivers. There probably have even been women drivers who have killed while out here though I haven’t heard of any specifically.
The reason that this idea bothers me is it makes me wonder if too many women considering trucking as a career buy into the stereotypical image of truckers in general. Let’s face it, our reputation proceeds us even though it is based on a misunderstanding of the industry by the general population. Male drivers are thought of as big burley guys who will fight at a drop of a hat, do drugs, drink heavily and use prostitutes while women drivers are thought of as big burley gals with tattoos who will fight at a drop of a hat and are either all lesbians, prostitutes or dominatrix. One woman I spoke with several years ago who was wanting to enter the industry told me that, “I can scratch, spit and cuss as well as any man and kick anyone’s butt that don’t like it, that qualifies me to be a woman trucker.” Oh my!
The reality is that we are all different. Do some of us fit the above descriptions? Yes, but so do people from other professions. So, is there a reason for women to fear their brother drivers to the extent that they want to run out and purchase wasp spray that shoots spray 20 feet away to take to truck driving school and into the truck? Not in my opinion; personal safety is about common sense, not about wasp spray.
Common sense is sound judgment not based on specialized knowledge; native good judgment and can be thought of as the ability to make sensible decisions: wisdom. Unfortunately, wisdom is gained by experience, and good judgment is an inherent trait and cannot be taught to any great degree. The ability to make sensible decisions takes looking at all sides or factors of a situation.
In trucking, one must have good common sense. Just like you wouldn’t park your truck without setting your brakes on a hill, you approach your personal safety thinking the same way. For instance, you are delivering in the older section of downtown Los Angeles CA. Common sense should tell you that the area may be dangerous, so even if you have never been there before, you should ask someone who has if it is safe for you to go into that area at midnight way before you get there. This provides you with the wisdom to plan your arrival nearer to dawn than to midnight.
Most criminal activity, specially crimes against women, occur in open areas at night. Therefore, common sense should tell you to limit your exposure to crime at night by staying in your truck or, if at all possible, getting out only if there is someone you can trust to walk with you or security personnel available. At times neither is possible, so being aware of your surroundings is necessary and applying common sense to any activity in the area is a given. If you see unusual movement, vehicles or people in the vicinity of your truck…get out of there! Go back inside and tell the fuel desk person what is going on. Only go back to your truck when the suspicious activity is over, with truck stop personnel or the police.
Knowledge that most crimes in truck stops against women are against prostitutes, should kick in your common sense so you use good judgment in your demeanor so that your clothes, makeup or behavior do not mimic those shown by prostitutes. Furthermore, you shouldn’t be going up to or into a male driver’s truck. This not only opens you to losing your reputation, but also could put you at risk of becoming a victim of violence if in the slim chance that the male driver is a predator.
Bottom line is that all the wasp spray in the world isn’t going to protect you against anyone if they are determined to harm or rob you. Most criminals are not stupid and are not going to give you the chance to get out a weapon, they are going to jump out of hiding or blindside you. Use the gift given you at birth, your brain, to develop common sense and gain wisdom by learning about what to look for in your surroundings, keep your doors locked, then have the good judgment to use what you have learned to avoid exposing yourself to criminal activity. That way you can protect yourself from harm.
Ya’ll be safe out there!