One of our former drivers and current night dispatcher, Kate, shares her experience on what it’s like to become a professional driver. It’s a career that proves to be appealing to more groups than you’d imagine.
Hi. My name is Kate Flanagan. I am currently 61 years old. I drove a semi for 21 years, right up until just past my 56th birthday. Because I am so short, over and over people asked in total disbelief, “How do you drive that, that thing?” In reply I ask them, “How did you learn your ABC’s?” Practice, practice, practice. You work at it. You keep at it until you get it right. Learning how to drive a semi is basically no different than learning any other new skill. You find a good teacher and you mimic that teacher until you’ve got it down pat.
Part of their disbelief is a result of my stature. I am extremely short; 4’11 to be exact. To put that into perspective, when face-to-face with a New York State trooper once, my nose was exactly even with his belt buckle. He burst out laughing as he waved his hand over my head. “How tall are you anyway?”
In 20-plus years of driving, I have seen trucks evolve from me having to strap blocks of wood on my pedals to the much more user-friendly models that allow seat adjustments to accommodate my short legs. Clutch pedals used to be so stiff they required me yanking on the steering wheel as I stood on them, now they operate with minimal effort. Now, semi-trucks even have either partial or fully automatic transmissions!
Truck driving is the PERFECT “2nd career” for women who have raised their children and/or retired from their first job. Divorced, widowed, or just yearning for a life adventure, trucking is the perfect match. I have a friend whose grown children are scattered half way across the country. She told me she took up truck driving at 50 years old just to have a better chance of seeing them more often. Once her husband retired, he joined her out on the road first as a passenger and then later, he went on to get his CDL so they could drive team.
It is fun, challenging, and beyond rewarding – both financially and emotionally. And it is the opportunity of a lifetime to do work that is vital to America, all while seeing our great country in ways most people only dream about. Grand Island Express is extremely proud of all the outstanding women drivers in their fleet. If you have ever even thought about learning to drive a truck, give them a call. Find out why they have been voted a top ten “Best Fleets to Drive For” six years in a row!