Women truck drivers are on the rise, according to PAM Certified Driver Mentor, Vicki Fowler. As a lease purchase operator (LPO) with PAM Cartridge Carriers, Vicki has seen a dramatic increase in the number of women she mentors and trains.
“I’m training a new woman driver every two weeks,” she says. “I’ve now trained 40 women truck drivers. Many of these women are in their 50s and are quitting their previous careers to learn how to drive a truck! I’ve mentored two nurses who wanted a less stressful job, where they can earn good pay and see the country.”
As a Certified Driver Mentor, Vicki teaches her “mentees” safety best practices during the new driver’s two-week paid training, along with tips and strategies to earn more weekly pay. PAM’s industry-leading driver training program is designed to get every new driver to their solo or team assignments faster, so they can quickly start earning more cents per mile (CPM) and monthly bonuses.
As soon as every new driver is hired at PAM, mentors like Vicki reach out to the new “mentee” to start coordinating their training. If you’re hired as a new PAM driver, here’s what you can expect when you join our “PAMily.”
Women Truck Drivers Essentials
Before beginning on-the-road training, PAM requires all new drivers to complete their onboarding paperwork. Fortunately, PAM makes this easy with our Straight to Seat online orientation.
“All of my new, women truck drivers have to complete all their online paperwork before I can begin working with them,” Vicki says. “But because it is virtual, you can complete your orientation on your own time, on your own schedule. It only takes about five hours to finish.”
That’s when Vicki begins the driver mentorship training, which includes best practices for keeping more pay in your pocket.
“I keep a crock pot, microwave, air fryer and refrigerator in the truck to make it easy to cook our own meals, so we can eat healthier and not spend all our hard-earned pay at fast-food restaurants,” she says. “I’ve driven for PAM for nearly 10 years and during that time I’ve learned this is one of the best ways to keep more pay in your pocket.”
In addition to coordinating meals, Vicki works with each new driver to determine which days they want to be on the road and when they want to take their weekly breaks. New PAM drivers must complete 80 hours of mentorship training within a 14-day time period. Once their new schedule is established, Vicki and her mentee begin driving together in 12-hour shifts.
“I make sure they get experience driving multiple types of routes,” she says. “Countryside roads, mountain roads, interstates and highways… I make sure they become comfortable with different driving conditions, which is key to keeping themselves safe, along with drivers around them.”
Truck Driver Safety First — Always
Like many women truck drivers, Vicki chose PAM because of their reputation of putting driver safety first, especially when it comes to their women drivers.
“Thanks to our responsive dispatch team, you’re never alone on the road when you drive for PAM,” she says. “You can reach someone 24/7. Plus, PAM trucks have navigation systems, so PAM dispatch always has your back and can reach you if you need help. Not all trucking companies offer that kind of driver support. I know one woman driver who left PAM and then came back because she wanted to drive for a company that had her back!”
Vicki begins teaching driving safety essentials before her new women drivers get behind the wheel. She guides them through a 108-point pre-trip safety inspection, beginning with an exterior inspection of the truck. This includes checking for any obvious issues that could be a distraction or a safety threat while driving.
Potential exterior problems might include:
- Missing or loose lug nuts in the front or trailer wheels
- A bent or broken grill or debris caught in the grill
- Loose or cracked fender mirrors
- Tires that are not properly inflated or have cuts, bulges or retreads
- Valve stems that are not touching the wheel, rim, or brake drum
“You need to be sure nothing on the outside of your truck is likely to break or come loose while you’re driving,” Vicki says. “Checking your tires is especially important, to make sure there isn’t any tire wear and tear. Inside the cab you need to make sure all your dashboard gauges are working properly, along with your safety equipment, such as a fire extinguisher.”
Vicki says PAM provides proactive maintenance services to keep their drivers safe, such as changing out tires before they have too much wear and tear and performing oil changes if drivers are going to be on the road for extended periods of time.
“PAM never waits to replace truck parts or fix any items that could cause problems on the road,” she says. “The mechanics always inspect the entire vehicle and they replace items ASAP, if needed.”
After Vicki’s woman driver mentee inspects the truck and after PAM provides any preemptive maintenance, Vicki begins the behind-the-wheel training.
“Always know your surroundings,” she says. “I can’t say that enough. That’s the single most important thing to remember when you are behind the wheel. When you’re backing up the truck, you have to get out of the truck and go look at the spot you’re backing into first,” she says. “You don’t have a rearview mirror, so you need to know what’s behind you.”
Vicki also takes her new drivers through the five keys to truck driving safety, trademarked by Harold L. Smith, who founded the Smith System® driving school1 in 1952. The mnemonic “All good kids like milk” is a way to remember the “A,” “G,” “K,” “L” and “M” that make up the 5 keys:
- Aim High in Steering®
- Get the Big Picture®
- Keep Your Eyes Moving®
- Leave Yourself an Out®
- Make Sure They See You®
“To stay alert and follow the five keys, you also have to get plenty of rest and take your breaks,” Vicki says. “PAM encourages you to take a break if you need it. You can go to one of the PAM yards on your route and rest if you are tired. This way you’re refreshed enough to take on the miles you need to earn a good living.”
Best Truck Driving Practices to Earn More Pay
Vicki helps new women truck drivers become more efficient with their breaks and how to master log rules, so they can earn more miles and more weekly pay once they finish their two-week training.
Vicki says it is important to pre-plan your trips and breaks, and to keep in communication with your driver manager. Sometimes, due to the customer’s load scheduling, you may be able to get to your destination early. In these situations, you should communicate with your Driver Manager for possible load assignment updates. Being proactive with your Driver Manager can help you earn more miles and increase your paycheck each week.
For example, if you get a load on a Monday and have 900 miles due on Thursday, you may be able to reach those miles on Tuesday. You can then reach out to your driver manager on the Qualcomm app to let them know the load will reach its destination on Tuesday. In these situations a driver should communicate with their Driver Manager for possible load assignment updates.
“I tell my women truck drivers that if they just keep their mouths shut when they reach their miles early, they’ll make less money,” Vicki says. “But if you are proactive and you let your driver manager know you can take another load sooner, you can earn a lot more pay each week. Plus, PAM just raised its OTR and team driver pay and added more bonuses, and you can get a raise every year with no caps! This means there’s really no limit to growing your weekly pay.”
Let PAM Show You How to Make More Money as a Truck Driver
PAM has a Driver Mentor ready to help you learn the rules of the road to put you on the road to financial success. You could be in your new truck driving solo or earning even more pay on a team after just two weeks of paid training!
We would love to tell you a little more about our paid training and all the other offers that make PAM the premier trucking company for both new and experienced drivers across the country — especially women professionals. Give us a call at (866) 401-2496, or SEE AVAILABLE JOBS by clicking below.
- The Smith5Keys®, Smith System®