Ina Daly recently earned the distinction of being the first female driver to win first place in any of the National Truck Driving Championships competitions. Not only did she win the tank truck class, she also had a perfect score on the written exam. She has long held a respected place in the industry as being a prime example of safe truckers, so the recognition is pleasant, but not unexpected.
Daly, who learned trucking as part of a family business, had originally planned on being an agricultural teacher, but life is always full of surprises. She learned how to drive like most kids growing up on a farm did — on a tractor, with her dad. However, the lessons didn’t stop there. While she was in college, she worked for her father’s friend. When his business needed some extra help making trucking runs, she knew she could do it. Daly cites lessons from her father and the knowledge that more women were getting into trucking as her inspiratixon in those early years.
She always remembered the lessons her father taught her while she worked alongside him. One that stands out is the need to be patient and leave enough room between her vehicle and those around her. While you can’t control other drivers, she notes, you can control the cushion of safety you have between you and their sometimes poor decisions.
Daly has been recognized for her safety-first attitude many times. She’s been the Arizona Driver of the Year and was inducted to America’s Road Team, a group of truckers who “share superior driving skills, remarkable safety records and a strong desire to spread the word about safety on the highway.”
Part of Daly’s work towards safer roads includes travelling around the country to train students in driver’s education about how they can keep both themselves and truckers safe once they’re on the road. She has 2 million miles with zero accidents under her belt, so there are few people better qualified to pass on safety advice.
Daly takes safety training seriously. Truckers can expect to be trained by mostly men on a variety of subjects, from how to use a electronic driver log properly to safety concerns. The nuances of trucking aren’t always readily understood by civilians, but truckers must memorize varying state laws and learn technological components to their jobs, like using EOBRs. In this process, female trainers are few and far between. Those lucky enough to work with one should ask to keep in touch in a mentoring relationship. Just like in all male-dominated fields, having a mentor can grow a career and make big decisions easier down the line.
Ina Daly continues to inspire the trucking world by breaking gender barriers and safety records. You can influence the world around you in small ways, like being cautious on the road. Always leave space between you and the next car, and move to the right if the person behind you on the highway or interstate is driving aggressively.
In a bigger way, you can emulate Daly’s success by choosing a mentor, whether it’s a parent like Daly, or a female trainer. Studies have shown that women benefit greatly from same-gendered mentors, especially in male-dominated fields.
Most importantly, we can learn to live our bliss from Daly, who truly enjoys her life.
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