BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – Ladies could be the key to ending Florida’s truck driver shortage, according to leaders at Fleet Force Truck Driving School.

Cathy Slaughter recently graduated from the program.

“It’s a good field and you can make good money,” she said. “It’s honest work and you’ve got a future. You can go so many different directions.”

Recent numbers from truck driving schools around the state show a slight increase in female drivers over the past few years. According to the companies, males still occupy nearly 80% of positions in the industry.

“Carriers love to hire females. Females cause less accidents, they job-hop less often and, as a result, they’re cheaper to insure,” Fleet Force President Tra Williams said.

According to Williams, females make up less than 10% of commercial drivers license (CDL) holders nationally. He said the job pays well — the average salary is $78,000 in Florida.

He said tuition to obtain a CDL typically costs between $6,000 and $10,000. Aspiring drivers are required to take an exam. The Fleet Force driving program includes 160 hours of training over a four-week period.

According to Williams, many assume the career requires long trips across the country, away from home. He said it’s what keeps some women with children out of the industry.

“I have a 15-year-old daughter and I’ve got to be home every night, so that’s where I’m going to be,” Slaughter told WFLA.

The mom said she’ll be driving local routes to make sure she still has time with her family.

“I’ll be the first woman in Sarasota driving to give everyone else some encouragement that they can do it too,” said Slaughter.

More information about joining the truck driving industry can be found on the Fleetforce Truck Driving School website.