For MC driver Corrina Riley, juggling truck driving and motherhood isn’t always easy, but she makes it work and is encouraging other women to follow the same path and join the industry.
This week, Riley – who is also Women in Trucking Australia’s (WITA) first member-elected board director – has being doing the rounds to discuss the industry and the benefits of attracting more women into driver roles.
On Tuesday evening, she featured in a segment on ABC News Queensland and yesterday was interviewed on Triple M’s Night Shift radio program.
The ABC report spoke about the nationwide driver shortage, issues of driver burnout and delivery delays – and how the industry is looking to recruit more women to help fill these gaps.
Riley and her son Jack are seen jumping into the 2012 Peterbilt 388 she drives for Gaffs Heavy Diesel and Haulage.
“Sometimes it’s really challenging and tiring but it’s my job and you just gotta get on with it and make it work. He is usually the first kid at before school care and the last one to leave. However now Jack is in Year 6 and almost 12, things are a little easier to manage with Ubers and things as well,” she said.
Riley learnt to drive trucks from her ex-husband, however it was also in the family too. “My Dad was a driver before I was born and my uncle drove trucks for many years,” added Riley.
When asked what she enjoys most about the job, the answer is swift, “Everything!” she said.
“I love meeting new people, the bigness, the shine, the diesel smell, the engine brake, the hard work and the variety of work I do. And I love that I can take my son.”
Though Riley also admits that there’s been many challenges, one of the toughest of which was working through a pandemic while also home-schooling. “Covid was a massive challenge. I had to work to survive and truck driving was one of the few jobs where you didn’t have to stay home. I didn’t have a husband or a wife at home to look after my son and do all the partner things so I ended up home-schooling my son once they closed the schools down the first time for about four months.”
Riley is hoping to see more women come forward and try their hand at truck driving. “The more women we have in the industry, the less gender bias there will be. And the less gender bias, the more women there will be.
“I myself take women with me in the truck to help give them either a little confidence or a bit of experience they might need to get that job they want. That little bit of help and knowledge goes a long way in trying to get hired for the right job.”
Two cases in point were a 3400km two-up trip from Brisbane to Cairns she did with 64-year-old Kerri Avern; and a trip with 49-year-old barber Joanne Boland, who was looking to switch careers.
“A number of the larger companies are now running long overdue female only driver training programs which is great – as are many of the smaller companies,” Riley added.
“It’s going to take a whole lot of industry response to get the numbers of female drivers heading in the right direction.”