BURLINGTON, N.C. — As industries work to recover, we are seeing a huge need for more truck drivers to help move the goods our economy relies on.
However, when it comes to finding more talented drivers, there may be untapped potential among a certain group African American women.
Pamela Day owns the Cross Country Truck Driving School. When we caught up with her, she was administering a basic skills test to see if one of her students is ready to earn his commercial drivers license, also known as a CDL. She was checking Sinclair Richardson’s ability to maneuver commercial vehicles around objects.
“I’m watching to make sure he doesn’t hit any cones on this side, and he doesn’t hit any of these cones,” Day said.
Day drove commercial vehicles for almost a decade, and she says when she would come home, she would work as an instructor for the previous owners of the school, and she then became the owner in 2019. She emphasizes she loves everything about her job.
“Just the challenge of training the students and ensuring that they understand that this is all about safety,” Day said.
Day is one of the only African American females in North Carolina to own a CDL truck driving school, and that’s unusual, according to American Trucking Associations. Research from the group shows minorities make up just under half of the truck driver population at 41.5%, but women of any race only made up 6.7% of the total 3.6 million truck drivers on the road in 2019.
“I’m very thankful, and I want to help not only my race but every race I come in contact with if they want to be a truck driver and learn this industry and be effective here,” Day said.
She says it’s an amazing feeling to help students like Richardson get their CDL.
“To see that they’ve learned the skills that they’ve been taught and that they are safe with the maneuvers, I’m happy to put my signature on something that says someone’s going to be a safe CMV operator,” Day explained.
Day is working hard to train more people to safely get on the road and keep businesses and goods moving.