Ryder Looks at Trucks Designed for Women
MIAMI, FL — Ryder is introducing female-friendly trucks to its fleet based on recommendations from Women in Trucking (WIT), to encourage more women drivers to join the ranks of fellow truckers.
“It’s important for manufacturers to take women’s needs into consideration when designing and specifying new vehicles, and we are encouraging all of our major suppliers to do so,” says Scott Perry, VP, supply management for Ryder.
The partnership between Ryder and WIT is meant to improve working conditions for female drivers and strengthen safety through user-friendly truck cab designs.
Based on research from Women in Trucking and Dr. Jeanette Kersten, Assistant Professor of Operations and Management Department for the College of Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin, Ryder has picked custom vehicle designs that better meet the needs of female drivers.
“Today’s trucks are not designed with women in mind,” Kersten says.
In spring of 2012, Kersten and her graduate students developed a survey that looked at truck cab design and driver experience. What they found was that trucks could be more user-friendly for females by improving designs for seats, dashes and steering.
The study explains that the average female driver is six inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than the average male driver, so some female drivers have challenges with setting their seats for easy access to the pedals, maximum visibility of the gauges and mirrors and with regard to cab accessibility, such as getting into their trucks.
According to the study, women are more prone to slips, trips and falls because steps and hand rails are placed in locations designed for men.
“Given the driver shortage and the changing demographics that the trucking industry faces, it’s important for manufacturers to make trucks more female-friendly through moderate design changes for seats, pedals and gauges, for example. Not only will this make trucks easier and more comfortable for women to operate, but it will also better ensure greater safety for female drivers,” Kersten says.
Here are the vehicle specs that Ryder is reviewing:
- Height and placement of cab steps and grab handles;
- Adjustable foot pedal height (accelerator, brake, clutch);
- Height of seat belts (shoulder area);
- Visibility of dash gauges;
- Electric and hydraulic hood lifting mechanism;
- Automated transmission shift lever placement or location;
- Access to the top of the dash;
- Better access to oil and coolant check and fill;
“Many of the same design changes will also support the needs of men who are smaller in stature, as well as the growing population of aged male drivers,” Perry says. “With the current industry-wide shortage of professional drivers, this is a strategic initiative that can have far-reaching implications for truck fleets.”
Ellen Voie, CEO of Women In Trucking commented: “There are close to 200,000 women truck drivers, and that number is steadily growing. Having Ryder’s support, particularly given their strong relationships with top vehicle manufacturers, represents a significant step forward to help the industry attract more female drivers and improve the work environment for the thousands of women who’ve already established careers as professional drivers.”