Just a Lady Truck Driver

Here of late, we have been hearing a lot about women in trucking in general.

So, I thought I would ask a real woman truck driver, her thoughts on the industry and how they could be improved.

I have known this lady truck driver for just a few months, but the knowledge she holds is unbelievable. She not only drives a truck throughout the week. But, also takes care of a lot of duties, when she gets home.

Sandy Long started her career more than 30 years ago. She has proven that you can succeed with hard work and determination, and a lot of common sense. She, not only is a truck driver, but she operates and owns a very helpful yahoo group called “Trailer Truckin Tech” 700 members strong, they have helped many people.

Which now she has expanded into “Facebook”, with the group. She has posted over Forty articles, on the “Facbook” group’s page, men and women alike are encouraged to join, if you are thinking of becoming a truck driver.

I contacted Sandy, to see if she would kindly do a sort of email interview with “TruckDriversNews.com”, and she agreed. Sandy thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer these question’s for us.

Q.) Tell us a little about yourself, who is Sandy Long?
A.) I am many things but most of all I am two things, a survivor and a truck driver. I can relate to people who have been victimized. I am a survivor of childhood physical, mental and sexual abuse. Overcoming those things was not easy and it took years to do so, but I did survive and have learned that with survival comes growth as a person.

I turned from a perpetual victim to an empowered woman who can survive. This has stood me good stead in my career as a truck driver. I also use the tools that I learned in overcoming my past to assist others to become empowered also and not to remain victims.

I pass on what I have learned also throughout my career by owning and running a yahoo group called Trailer Truckin Tech where we work with new and prospective drivers to assist them to enter the industry and to become safe productive drivers.

Along with the above things, I am a published poet, a freelance writer and a driver’s advocate and activist. I got into advocacy/activist work while off the road due to medical issues. While off, I worked with disabled folk and at risk kids, sitting on the board of directors for a disabled assistance center and on the advisory council for the at risk kids thru the local high school along with addressing the issues facing the disabled by doing public speaking at city council meetings. mental health seminars and writing articles for the local paper.

In my spare time when not on the road, I do crafts such as crocheting and needlework, work on other types of crafts, collect rocks and read and study voraciously.

Q.) Sandy, what made you decide to get into trucking?
A.) I spent the last two years of high school in foster home. When I got out of that, I got itchy feet and ran away and joined a carnival. Being raised on farms, when asked if I could drive truck, I said sure and started moving equipment from spot to spot.

After I got tired of that after 7 years of it, I managed a bar for a couple of years and decided to become a truck driver for the money and to be honest, I was not ready to stay in one place yet in my life. It seemed like a natural progression from carnivals and driving on them to do it professionally.

I could not verify my experience on the carnivals so went to the first truck driving school. Though I could drive, and ended up teaching the other two women in the class, I had rarely backed up and knew nothing of regulations. Back then, we didn’t have trainers per se, we had lead seat drivers and ran team operation from the git go.

So, I spent the next 8 months running with a couple of different lead seats before getting hurt on the job and moving into the office of the company where I wore many hats, primarily I was in the personnel office.
I returned to driving, then left it again due to the previous injury and did not grandfather my cdl. I had to go to a second school to recertify later to return to trucking. Bottom line, I drive truck for the money primarily.

Q.) What organizations do you belong to, and why?
A.) I am a proud life member of OOIDA. OOIDA is involved politically with making changes in the trucking industry to benefit drivers and owner operators. OOIDA keeps me focused on what is going on in the industry and in Washington DC which helps me in my advocacy work and in my working with new and prospective drivers. I also like their forums, it is where I socialize with my peers.

I am also a proud member of the Women In Trucking Assocation and on their driver advisor committee. Back in 2005 when I was thinking of starting a trucking group (the future Trailer Truckin Tech), a few women that I had been on a woman driver yahoo group with, approached me to start a women truck driver organization. After much thought I decided against it.

If nothing else, I know myself very well. While I am great with problem solving, coming up with ideas and even working hard to grow an organization, I do not have the patience to deal with executives and such; I am too much the activist to deal with the politics of running an organization; I am also not a detail person which one has to be to run a non for profit organization.

I also figured it would just be a matter of time before someone qualified would start such an organization and then I could join it to help other women in the industry and help the organization grow in any way I could. I found it when the WIT was formed. I really enjoy the organization, but you could not get me to run it for all the fancy peterbilts in the world!!!

Q.) What problems have you see with the industry?
A.) In many ways the trucking industry is over regulated. Anti idling laws, messed up HOS regulations that they keep wanting to change, more and more restrictions on drivers due to junk science and special interest groups…the list can go on.

Yet, they do not address the very much needed issue of training regulations or school accredidation, though there are proposed rules laying around at the FMCSA addressing training regulations.

Working with newbees and wannabees the way I do at Trailer Truckin Tech, I hear the horror stories of how students are treated at some of the so called trucking schools, some of which are no more than CDL mills. I do hear of some abuses by trainers, but mainly hear of the inadequent training provided by some of those trainers.

I also hear of scams done to wannabees by third party recruiters who recruit for the schools and some of the training companies, though I am unsure how much the companies actually know of the actions of the third party recruiters.

At this time, with no training regulations on the books, there is no way to improve the training practices of either the schools or the companies; they are operating within the law. I have been working over the last couple of years with OOIDA by sending them the stories I hear at the TTT about the bad schools and companies to use in their fight for training regulations.

When the regulations finally go into effect, I am sure that OOIDA will be there to make sure that they are adequate, I too will be watching closely. With adequate training regulations in place, then we can start addressing the other issues such as higher pay for students etc.

Q.) What changes would you like to see in the trucking industry?
A.) Training regulations obviously, changing the designation of drivers from unskilled labor to skilled, changing how we are paid from performance based pay to perhaps a combination of salary and mileage pay, 100% pass on of fuel surcharge, regulation of brokers to name a few of the main ones.

Q.) Are you a Owner operator or a company driver? Why?
A.) As I stated in the answer about organizations, I am not a detail orientated person and while I worked in the trucking company office, I assisted in running their lease purchase program. I saw what being married to a truck did to people and chose not to ever own my own truck. While I have the utmost respect for successful owner operators knowing how hard it is to succeed as one, I am more comfortable being a company driver.

As a company driver, I have worked very hard to prove that women can drive truck as well as my brother drivers can. This was hard back when I started as many companies would not even consider at the time hiring a solo woman driver.

I stuck to it though and am proud to say that I can go back to any company I worked for that is still in business. I do my job to the best of my ability, ask no quarter because I am a woman, deliver on time and take care of my equipment along with representing both my company and women drivers in a positive light. Being a company driver is where I shine.

Thanks Sandy, for this interview, if you want to address anything else you can do so here…

One last thing; one of my main goals in working with new and prospective women drivers is to empower them so they too can find success in the trucking industry the way I have. To do this, I try to teach them how to adapt to a male dominated profession, how to overcome the obstacles they may find not by being a victim but by learning how to set boundaries, how to problem solve and how to conduct themselves.

Trucking is not like the jobs that most of them have come from and it cannot be approached in the same way say one would approach working in an office or factory. One needs not only skill to be a successful woman truck driver, but courage, knowledge of both the industry and human nature and a certain toughness. If by my working with them, women can become successful, then I have accomplished my goal.

In closing, I just want to say thanks again Sandy for the web interview, and for all the great information you provide! I urge each and everyone of you to check out these two groups, either Trailer Truckin Tech – Yahoo or Trailer Trucking Tech – Facebook

© 2009, TruckDriversNews.com – Trucking Industry News, Reviews. All rights reserved.

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