Ryder partners with Women in Trucking to develop ergonomic truck cab designs in response to growing numbers of female truck drivers

Cindy Allen

Cindy Allen

Mar 17, 2014 – Business Wire

MIAMI , March 17, 2014 (press release) – Partnership addresses the unique needs of a growing female truck driver population

To respond to the increasing number of women choosing careers as professional truck drivers and to inspire more women to consider the transportation industry as a career, Ryder System, Inc. (NYSE: R), a leader in commercial transportation and supply chain management solutions, today announced a partnership with Women In Trucking, a non-profit organization established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry. This collaboration is aimed at improving working conditions for female drivers and enhancing safety through ergonomic truck cab designs that address the unique challenges women face when operating today’s commercial heavy duty vehicles.

Using research recently conducted by Women In Trucking in partnership with Dr. Jeanette Kersten, Assistant Professor of Operations and Management Department for the College of Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin, Ryder has identified custom vehicle designs that better meet the needs of female drivers. As part of this partnership, Ryder will deploy these designs in its owned and leased fleet and will help encourage vehicle manufacturers to consider additional design changes.

“There are close to 200,000 women truck drivers, and that number is steadily growing,” says Ellen Voie, Chief Executive Officer of Women In Trucking. “Having Ryder’s support, particularly given their strong relationships with top vehicle manufacturers, represents a significant step forward to help the industry attract more female drivers and improve the work environment for the thousands of women who’ve already established careers as professional drivers.”

The pilot study was a partnership between the Women In Trucking Association and students in Dr. Kersten’s INMGT 750 Organization Development graduate course at U W-Stout. In spring 2012, Dr. Kersten and her graduate students developed a survey that specifically assessed truck cab design and driver experience. The results of the pilot study identified numerous opportunities for improvement in the designs for seats, dashes, steering, and in-cab ergonomics for female drivers.

The pilot study conducted by Kersten, Voie, Mauer, Palakeel, and Chacon in April 2012 corroborated the research published by Jinhua; Hongwei; Bradtmiller; Tsui-Ying; Reed; Jahns; Loczi; Hardee; and Piamonte in Human Factors in October, 2012. The findings in both studies highlight the fact that the average female driver is six inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than her male counterpart. This physical discrepancy can create issues for female drivers operating trucks designed and built for men. For example, seats, pedals, and gauges are designed to maximize a male’s driving experience and performance. However, female drivers typically have problems setting their seats for easy access to the pedals and maximum visibility of the gauges and mirrors. Female truck drivers are also challenged in regard to cab accessibility, i.e., getting into their trucks. With steps and hand rails placed in locations designed for men, women are commonly forced to enter and exit their vehicles in a manner that makes them more prone to slips, trips, and falls. This research has been presented to the National Transportation Research Board, the Technology and Maintenance Council, and to various truck manufacturers. The findings of this pilot study will also be presented at the Women’s Issues in Transportation Conference (WIiT) April 14-16 in Paris, France.

“Today’s trucks are not designed with women in mind,” said Dr. Kersten. “Given the driver shortage and the changing demographics that the trucking industry faces, it’s important for manufacturers to make trucks more female-friendly through moderate design changes for seats, pedals and gauges, for example. Not only will this make trucks easier and more comfortable for women to operate, but it will also better ensure greater safety for female drivers.”

Some of the vehicle specifications Ryder is reviewing include:

Height and placement of cab steps and grab handles
Adjustable foot pedal height (accelerator, brake, clutch)
Height of seat belts (shoulder area)
Visibility of dash gauges
Electric/hydraulic hood lifting mechanism
Automated transmission shift lever placement/location
Access to the top of the dash
Better access to oil and coolant check and fill

“It’s important for manufacturers to take women’s needs into consideration when designing and specifying new vehicles, and we are encouraging all of our major suppliers to do so,” states Scott Perry, Vice President, Supply Management for Ryder. “In addition, many of the same design changes will also support the needs of men who are smaller in stature, as well as the growing population of aged male drivers. With the current industry-wide shortage of professional drivers, this is a strategic initiative that can have far-reaching implications for truck fleets.”

Ryder is a Corporate Member of Women In Trucking.

About Ryder

Ryder is a FORTUNE 500® commercial transportation, logistics and supply chain management solutions company. Ryder’s stock (NYSE: R) is a component of the Dow Jones Transportation Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Inbound Logistics magazine has recognized Ryder as a top third party logistics provider and green supply chain partner. Ryder has also been ranked three years in a row as one of the top 250 U.S. companies in the Newsweek Green Rankings. In addition, Security Magazine has named Ryder one of the top companies for security practices in the transportation, logistics, supply chain, and warehousing sector. Ryder is a proud member of the American Red Cross Disaster Responder Program, supporting national and local disaster preparedness and response efforts. For more information, visit www.ryder.com and follow us on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

About Women In Trucking

Women in Trucking was established to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the trucking industry. Membership is not limited to women, as sixteen percent of its members are men who support the mission. For more information visit www.WomenInTrucking.org or call 888-464-9482.

About Dr. Kersten, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Stout

Dr. Jeanette Kersten is an Assistant Professor and Endowed Chair for People Process Culture in the Department of Operations and Management, College of Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie WI. Dr. Kersten teaches graduate courses in Organization Development/Change management, Organizational Culture, and Human Resource Development. She supervises many graduate student research projects in the private and non-profit sector each semester. Dr. Kersten graduated from the University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN Doctoral Program in Organization Learning and Development in 2007. Her Doctoral Research investigated the lived experiences of women in their workplace relationships with supervisors and their use of Emotional Intelligence Competencies. Dr. Kersten conducts research with organizations in the private and nonprofit sectors. Dr. Kersten may be reached at kerstenj@uwstout.edu.

About the University of Wisconsin-Stout Menomonie, WI

UW-Stout is a comprehensive, career-focused university where students, faculty and staff use applied learning, scientific theory, humanistic understanding, creativity and research to solve real-world problems, grow the state’s economy and serve society. UW-Stout provides a distinctive array of innovative programs that produce graduates who are prized in the marketplace. The six-month post-graduation employment rate for UW-Stout graduates has been at 97 percent for more than a decade, with more than three-quarters of them in their field of study. The university’s nearly 9,300 students, supported by 472 faculty and instructional academic staff and 949 additional staff, can select from 45 undergraduate programs, 20 master’s degree programs and three advanced degree programs: Ed.S. in Career and Technical Education, Ed.S. in School Psychology and Ed.D. in Career and Technical Education. The university is located on a beautiful campus in Menomonie, situated in western Wisconsin, 60 minutes east of Minneapolis-St. Paul on Interstate 94; located in the scenic Chippewa Valley Region with a population base of more than 200,000. For more information, please visit http://www.uwstout.edu/.

Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements: Certain statements and information included in this news release are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Federal Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are based on our current plans and expectations and are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Accordingly, these forward-looking statements should be evaluated with consideration given to the many risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements including those risks set forth in our periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. New risks emerge from time to time. It is not possible for management to predict all such risk factors or to assess the impact of such risks on our business. Accordingly, we undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Source: Ryder System, Inc.


Cindy Haas, 305-500-4526



Jennifer Hanlon, 305-500-4547


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