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More women turn to truck driving for stable jobs during coronavirus

PHOENIX — More women are learning to drive commercial trucks to take on jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Katrina Alvarado had spent her career in customer service.

“I never thought I’d become a truck driver,” Alvarado said. “My family thought I was kidding. They all thought it was a joke until I told them I was serious about it.”

She had an awakening in her old apartment complex office.

“I saw a lot of people losing their jobs, unfortunately,” Alvarado said. “I just want to make sure for my future and my future family that I have myself financially stable.”

Alvarado says more women are realizing trucking isn’t only for men.

Out of 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S., 6% are women, according to Between 2010 and 2018, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported the number of female truck drivers increased by 68%.

“People aren’t spending as much money in travel and service-based industries,” said Brad Ball, president of Roadmaster Driver School in Phoenix. “They were spending a lot of money in products, and products move by truck.”

He also reports a spike in driver retirements in the early days of the pandemic.

New truckers learn to maneuver and master 18-wheelers with their cameras and safety features.

“They teach us everything from road emergencies to driving in the winter to basic survival skills,” Alvarado said.

Those come in handy during the coronavirus chaos, when truck stops, restaurants and amenities far from home operate at limited or no capacity.

“Truckers out there really kept a lot of things moving during the pandemic,” Ball said. “They were taking a lot of risks themselves driving on the roads and meeting with shippers.”

Alvarado is downloading apps to stay in touch with family and friends before she finishes school and hits the road in her truck.

“It’s just an oversized vehicle,” she said. “Once you get used to it, it’s great. It’s pretty easy to maneuver once you get the hang of it.”

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