Last year, we became members of Women In Trucking Association (WIT), a nonprofit association that encourages the employment of women in the trucking industry and promotes their accomplishments. 17% of WIT are actually men who support its mission.
In a recent WIT newsletter, we spotted an exciting announcement, winner of the First Annual Female Driver of the Year award. The winner is much admired Susie De Ridder, a company driver for Armour Transportation Systems in New Brunswick, Canada.
We asked Ellen Voie, the CEO of WIT, for an introduction because we were dying to meet this wonderful WIT driver. Thanks to Ellen, we had the pleasure to meet with Susie last week. Little did we know how special Susie truly is.
We were honored and happy to conduct this interview with Susie and congratulate her on this important milestone and achievement. She has been driving for 40 years and has covered 4 million miles; all that crash-free! She delivers groceries and medicine, and trucking is in her blood.
Susie’s father was a trucker and she used to accompany him on his rides when she was young. When she asked her dad why there were no women truckers, he replied “The steering wheel does not know who is holding it.”
Right after high school she applied for a job at a trucking company and that was the start to her 40-year career.
Susie attends trucking industry and charity events, contributing as a speaker, presenter, and panelist. She drives a Freightliner today, but her favorite truck is the 1987 Peterbilt.
Susie’s dream is to settle in California.
How does she stay safe and healthy?
Susie is truly the Queen of Road Safety. Not a single crash in 40 years makes her one of the most safety-conscious drivers out there. Throughout her career, I am sure she has driven in a multitude of driving conditions. She says she stays calm even in traffic jams and “gives space” to other vehicles on the road. Leaving enough space between her and other vehicles always gives her enough time to react. When we asked her what keeps her attentive, she said she always looks around to get the “big picture” and likes listening to the radio, keeping up with what’s going on. She never starts driving when drowsy and makes sure she is well rested before she starts her shift.
Aside from safety-conscious, Susie is also health-conscious, which seems to be a must while following a strict driving routine. She prepares her meals and packs them. Lots of fruit and vegetables I bet! Taking care of health and rest is critical for safe driving.
Driving in today’s environment
We asked Susie about the post-COVID-19 driving environment and she told us a heart-warming story of Crystal Blair, a restaurant owner who offers free meals to drivers in Glenholme, Nova Scotia. She is lovingly called the “Trucker Angel.” Shout out and thanks to all the truckers out there and Crystal Blair, the Trucker Angel! Thank you for all you do every day!
Susie has had an amazing trucking career and today she is the inspiration to the next generation of truckers. She always travels with Clare, WIT’s trucking doll, who is proudly displayed on her dash. Clare became so famous that she’s now become the most popular WIT doll.
Amazed by Susie’s story, we were grateful and honored to interview her. She probably does not need much of safety technology but there are plenty of drivers on the road today who could use some extra guidance and support. Driving long distance can be monotonous and tiring, leading the driver to drowsiness or distraction. Susie may have Clare, her WIT trucking doll, but who wouldn’t benefit from a silent co-driver, always there to alert you when you need that extra help?
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