Truck Driving Woman: Time for a Change
There comes a point in your life when you just need to make a change.
When the prospect of going one more day, doing the same thing over and over again, just won’t do.
It’s not that you’re necessarily unhappy.
You just feel stuck.
And you want to get unstuck.
About two years ago, Amanda “Mandy” Steffen from Lindale, Texas, a small town about 90 miles east of Dallas along I-20, decided that she had had enough.
While she had graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Texas at Tyler, she had wound up in the business of selling auto parts.
It was not what she was envisioning.
And then there was the office politics.
“The office politics was emotionally draining,” she said. “But there was more to it than that. I felt stuck in a rut and I wanted to see the country and the outdoors. Instead, I found myself getting physically sick from sitting in an office all day.”
Convinced she needed a change, Steffen began looking for a new job, and considered going to truck driving school to get her Commercial Driver’s License.
Her family was skeptical of the change at first, as they never had a relative who was a truck driver.
“My brothers and sisters and parents were all trying to figure out if I was serious,” said Steffen. “And I was. I liked the idea of driving. Of making real money. Of seeing the nation. So I sold the house and just about everything in it, and made the change.”
Before Transport America
Steffen drove for two other companies before she found her home at Transport America. Neither gave her enough miles, nor treated her with the type of basic respect that she was expecting as an employee or as a person.
“I started to do a lot of research, because I was miserable at these other companies,” Steffen said. “I almost gave up truck driving. My fleet leaders just weren’t giving me enough miles, and in turn, I wasn’t making enough money. I searched for a company that would make my career as a truck driver more viable.”
“Then I found Transport America, and everything seemed to fall into place for me. Now, I’m out on the road for as long as I want to be – which is about three to four weeks at a time,” she said. “The culture is completely opposite of the companies I used to drive for.”
For example, Steffen speaks to the marriage of her little brother (she’s the oldest child). Her brother, S.Sgt. James Counts, was getting married in Boston in June, and her fleet leader was able to route Steffen to the Boston area where she parked her truck in a safe area and was able to participate in the wedding and all of its festivities.
Would another trucking company have been as accommodating to her?
“Heck no! Not based on my experience so far,” said Steffen. “Transport America saved me $3,000 in travel costs and time off. Other companies are not as flexible or caring.”
On Being a Truck Driving Woman
While there are more women drivers on the road than ever before, Steffen is aware that she and other women drivers are still in the minority when it comes to the total number of drivers hauling cargo day-in and day-out on the nation’s highways and freeways.
While some trucking companies talk a good game when it comes to wanting truck-driving women, according to Steffen, Transport America walks the talk.
For example, she points to the bathroom and showering facilities at Transport America.
“Transport America makes sure women have care facilities at their terminals,” she said. “I can tell you, a lot of other companies make women use the men’s facilities and showers.”
“It seems like other drivers with Transport America like seeing female drivers on the road, and it’s also nice for me to see other female drivers,” Steffen added. “It’s very encouraging. It reminds me that there’s nothing I can’t do. I love Transport America. I don’t think I’ll never leave!”
On a Mission
Having just two years under her belt, Steffen said she feels like she has come a long way in her safe driving techniques, but knows she still has a lot to learn.
“Many people don’t think that you can go out and drive a big truck without some sort of mechanical talent, but these people don’t realize that you’re rigorously trained on the skills you need, and, you learn a tremendous amount of skills on the job,” said Steffen.
“The most important thing to know about this job is safety. Safety is the real hero.”
Through her experiences on the road, Steffen had an epiphany recently about what makes her happy and what makes a job worthwhile for her.
“I realized that I have to feel like I’m helping people. When I drive safely, that’s how I get my job satisfaction,” said Steffen, who noted that she had been hit by a truck while driving a car when she was 18 years old.
“Every day, I make it my mission to drive safely – to make the roads safer for other drivers on the road,” she said.
So how far has Amanda come from where she was at two years ago, feeling stuck in an office – and stuck in her career?
“I feel so much better,” Steffen reported. “I’ve lost weight. I have less stress, and I can better maintain relationships with family, friends, and other drivers.”
In addition, she feels she is on the road to financial freedom. With a goal of paying off all her student loans and building a nest egg, Steffen says that Transport America is willing to give her all the miles she wants.
Compared to two years ago, Amanda Steffen is living her best life in her Kenworth cab. She is certainly a testament of courage — she changed her life plans to find a career that made her truly happy—and she now excels at changing trucking for the better like numerous other Transport America drivers.
What she’s come to appreciate behind the wheel of a Transport America truck is the vast beauty of our country.
“There have been places so beautiful that it’s brought tears to my eyes,” Steffen said, “I’m so thankful for this experience that I’m having right now.”