In the pink in the transport industry

In the pink in the transport industry

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Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls chief executive officer and Success Transport owner Heather Jones, Karratha.

Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls chief executive officer and Success Transport owner Heather Jones, Karratha.

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In honour of International Day of Rural Women on October 15, Farm Weekly celebrates the women who are making agriculture a better industry to work in for future generations - for women and men alike.

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DOTTED around Western Australia's North West, you'll find pink trucks driven by women in pink shirts to match, which was the bright idea of truck driver Heather Jones.

When Ms Jones, Karratha, found out that the Federal government was being lobbied to source foreign truck drivers because there was an apparent shortage, she and some of her trucking friends banned together in 2014 to show the industry that there were plenty of women who want to and were capable of driving trucks, creating the not-for-profit organisation Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls (PHHG).

Ms Jones has been driving trucks for more than 30 years and has spent most of her career in the Pilbara.

She got into the line of work for the same reason that most men have - to make a living to support her family.

Living in the Pilbara as a single mother with two young daughters, Kersti and Chelsea, and unable to afford childcare, Ms Jones accepted a friend's invitation to drive trucks while having her girls with her.

"I schooled them in the truck for seven years and it was a fantastic time in our lives," Ms Jones said.

"The biggest challenge was making sure they were safe, so we had a rule that they weren't allowed to get out of the truck unless they held my hand, because at truck stops you need to have obedient children because that can mean their life."

Both of her daughters now work in Ms Jones' trucking and training business Success Transport, with Kersti driving trucks and handling local paperwork and Chelsea managing the accounts and compliance and also learning to drive.

"It's lovely having them in the business and that they've taken a liking to the transport industry - I could not do what I do without them," Ms Jones said.

About 75 per cent of the drivers that undertake a course with Success Transport are women and Ms Jones said it was rewarding to contribute towards more women becoming truck drivers.

"Young men have the same issues as women - if they don't have experience, they aren't even looked at for interviews so if they can get experience with us then they can get a job too," she said.

"It's a pathway for drivers who are new to the industry, but for women."

Road safety is a passion and a focus of Ms Jones' business.

"We've always focused on having safe, professional drivers on the roads that know how to be safe - which requires things such as being able to read what other drivers are going to do," she said.

"For example, driving on highways with a 60 metre, 200 tonne road train you just can't stop on a dime, so there's a lot of education that's needed for other road users too.

"So we participate in visiting schools, doing road safety messages and I've got a segment on ABC radio every Tuesday talking about how to share the roads with heavy vehicles."

Spending the majority of her working life on country roads, Ms Jones has come across her fair share of accidents and has often been a first responder.

"One time I came across a ute that had hit a truck and the truck was in the bush and the two people on the driver's side in the ute were pretty badly injured," she said.

"We had no phone service, so that was memorable to say the least."

She said finding out the outcome of people who were in accidents was important in helping her cope with such traumatic events.

However Ms Jones said she was never able to find out if the people from that accident recovered.

To prevent road accidents from taking a toll, Ms Jones said, "you need to talk about it and have really good mates who you can talk to".

"You can't just not talk about it, it can affect you for life," she said.

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