Female truck drivers navigate trucking industry

"My Reality: A Hidden America": These drivers explain to ABC News' Diane Sawyer how they protect themselves on the road and the weapons they keep in their trucks.
8:35 | 04/21/18

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Female truck drivers navigate trucking industry
Ter: There big Y rolling down the highway tonight.a real opportunity at a middle class life.63,000 jobpenings. Abaverage padrive by a you can't see who's inside the 17-ton giant or as the truckers say who's at the L, "Putting the hammer down." Just the freedom and the power of being behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler driving down th. I love my job. And there's a lot of money Oh gosh. Rise in pesyia. Sunsets in Arizona and new Mexico are just out of T We are the backbof America. Without us, this country stops. Everything from food to thin at go into a hospital to save your life. One point or another that has been in a truck. Reporter: They are tough workers driving 11 hours a day, on ice, traffic, high winds that castabilize your load. 786 truck hs in 2016thhighest numbf in any industry. As a fal I will show you that I can do it Reporte one early mor bere dawn, outside Allentown pennia, I waitor a truck to pull up on the side of the road. Inside, someone of rpephanie kl Great to meet you. Great to see you. Orter: After8 years in the rig, no one knows her giant truck better than Stephanie. When sun rises, we stop. She bangthe tires, they speak to her. If these were F T have a really lower sound. Anu gotta belexible. Ter: She knows how to inspect the E the 450-hoower engine. Stephanie makes $70,000 a ye E's married to a trucker. And she wants everyone to know this was R out of poverty. She grew up on welfare in a trailer park, but now shns her own us though more than half of the year, she lives in her H behi the wheel aboufeet by 8 feet, enough to exercise, eat. Soyurpork chops, N. Reporter: And give a soft berth to Fred, the traveling cat. Ight she sps at those huge truck stops, 200, 300 truc the stores have showers truckers can use for a $10-15 fee. Indelicate question, porta potty?, yeah. I don't want to get up in mile of the night and go walking somewhere. Oman who Tes ordinary prens. E locks up when she was arting outshe got to D her husband as a partner. But as we started traveling though this unfamr landscape, we kept hearing a different kin Ory. E industr is mostly mall whichns there are17,000 female truckers and these stories were fear. A womaed to meet wus. E said it D to be in secret. She is afraid of losing her job. So we pu onto a da side N the shadow huge truck stop. She comes up, 25 years old, anxiously getting in the car. K at you, aren't freezing? Reporr: In the ous rush she says she forgot to put on her coat. I ga her mine. But she shows Har S. I go nowhere without it. Not a LE place. Bathroom, shower. Ityst all time I use these a weapon. Ts a weapon Oh yeah, you put 'em between your F Reporter: Before she became a driver, she cleaned houses and at mcdonald's.but alwaysanted a job that gave her a shot at the middle class LI. She was starting out when she friendly fellow trucker tried to assault her in the little bed back behind whl. E went and closed the kiss on me. Pulled off my clot likeconstant battle of no, and finally got off me. Repter: She ss she reported I the compa, and they sent her this letter to ""Hat they had "Conducted an investiga taken apprate action she tells us she's not sure where that man is son she's alone, she not only L up her ri she loops the seatbelts through the handles. Here I keep thee and the razor. Kear down here. And also behind my pillows is a hammer. Reporter: And she's not the one with apons. It's a police grade stun Reporter: At a truck stop I Lear this is an open secret. Do you carry a weapon? No. Ey have weapons in their cars. I don't blame them. You don't no, I meai think it dangerous for both, I mean trucks get hijacked. Reporter: And the more we looked into trucker websites, saw some troubling P. We reached out to some of the women. Pushed me up agains ai Demanding that I do this favor for him or this sexual favor hi I managed to somehow climb into my trucd call 911 I think L of women keep it to selves becse they're ashamed, they're embarrassed. He's like inever beenwith a black girl before, that's what he said. Reporter: This woman is one of T few who aeed to go on camera. She told us her problem was a trainer, who is someone assigned to show you thpes on the road. Trainers can influence whether you get thjob. Aying to me E hadn't LE ] In over six months and if I wanted T pass, that's what I had do. I said iuess I'll fail because I'm not doing THA Reporter: Whatever he said, she got her passing grad anotheucker said she was also cornered by a ter. He decided he was going to me down, iked him off. Iul out my box cutter and ended up leaving me at the struck stop. I really needed the job, they didn'thim. As F ai knew, they didn't believe me. Reporter: Ahe walking through a truck stop, one trucker asks if I'd had seen what wast on the news. A Texas man accused of rape. Reporter: He was sted two months ago. It was one of those trainers. Who sat was conssual. They fired Steele after their own internal investion. Orter: So ad a central question. What's happening ie the trucking world? We studied lawsuits, police reports. It seems no onuld give U hard dat tscope of the problem. We won with 63,000 available good paying jobs, how can women take those jobs wit fear? We sought out N voie, he of women in trucking. Her organization has helped spur the federal goment to begin a study of the issues in the industry. Thinks it might help if you had a kind of alarm em in a truck that would summon security or police. If someone tries to open the door, then the alarm will go off. For the sury people? Just like you have in your home. Cer in the cab. I belve inward facing cameras for training purpo onlyand I thinthat would the trainer and the trainee. Reporter: And we've also be on the phone talkingeight major trucking com. Many oe companietold us they know the fear is real and are concerneoued cidents. Of them said they want wom truckers. To do a lot more. T about the woman we met in set in the mid of th night? Shsa E if fear she's going T try to drive H W to the middlelass dream. I toldas walking around th trucks. I told her I was heading out now walk around the trucks. Llection out here? No. For real? You don't keep pction around you? H gosh. Can't imagine it? At all. Reporter: Sheed out of our car, her knife nearby.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"8:35","description":"\"My Reality: A Hidden America\": These drivers explain to ABC News' Diane Sawyer how they protect themselves on the road and the weapons they keep in their trucks.","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/2020","id":"54624358","title":"Female truck drivers navigate trucking industry","url":"/2020/video/female-truckers-navigate-male-dominated-industry-part-54624358"}