More women are joining the ranks of professional truck drivers, and industry analysts expect the number of women behind the wheel will continue to grow. But Class 8 highway trucks are designed for the men who have long dominated this most peripatetic of professions, leaving typically shorter women drivers to work in what can be uncomfortable conditions.
Ryder System Inc. hopes to alleviate that problem by offering leasing customers what it calls a "female-friendly vehicle package," which Ryder says is the first of its kind in the industry. Ryder worked with various OEMs and the nonprofit Women in Trucking Association (WIT) to develop a custom vehicle design they believe will better meet the needs of female drivers.
The cab design includes such ergonomic features as adjustable seatbelt shoulder straps, improved placement of dashboard gauges, adjusted height and placement of grab handles, and better access to oil and coolant checks and fill ports, Ryder says. The company also offers other features on request for certain vehicle models. Examples include a hood lift/closure assistance mechanism, fifth-wheel configurations with lower pull pressures to open the locking mechanism, automatic landing-gear operators for trailers, and a special security system for sleeper cabs. These same ergonomic specifications will also benefit many male drivers, Ryder says.