At 24 years of age, Samantha Fraser is a great example of the new breed of female driver that the trucking industry should be employing to help with the driver shortage. With the right people helping, Samantha reckons there’s no reason why women can’t do this job.
Three years ago, with the help of partner Dean Fraser and her best friend of 14 years Keiran Curragh (both at NZ Express at the time), Samantha got involved in the industry. It was after Dean and Keiran got Samantha to move a class 2 freight truck around the yard at NZ Express that she began to like the idea of getting out and about, so she sat her class 2 learners’ licence.
At the time NZ Express were looking for a driver and even though Samantha had no previous experience, they kindly took her on. Samantha says, “ When I first started driving trucks I felt the size and length difference was huge; it even felt weird to drive a car home as you can’t see as much as you can in a truck”.
After a year of driving class 2 vehicles Samantha sat her class 4 licence and at the same time became a container sideloader operator. This was big step up, not only learning the art of side-loader operation, but getting used to a Roadranger gearbox as well.
In a male-dominated industry Samantha told New Zealand Trucking that she gets treated really well by the male drivers, and that if you’re enthusiastic and willing to learn they are more than happy to share and tell you all of their stories and what they have experienced/learned over the years.
Another year passed and Samantha finally plucked up the courage to get her class 5 licence, which she wasn’t sure about at the start, but is now loving the challenge.
“In two short years Sammie has gone from baker to trucker and has a great future in our industry ahead of her,” says Angus Petrie, Samantha’s boss at NZ Express. “So far no task has been too hard for Sammie and even if it was something new, showing her once is all that is needed. Forwards or backwards, if you want your container picked up or dropped, Sammie will deliver.”
She’s going so well that Samantha was recently handed the keys to a brand new 410hp Mitsubishi Fuso 4x2, towing a new Hammar Light-Lifter. The new combination will make her job of running containers to and from Lyttelton Port that much smoother.
Considering a truck driver was definitely not what Samantha thought she’d choose as a career path, things are working out rather well for her. Samantha recently married Dean Fraser, who is now driving at K&T Trucking.
“We get to see each other most days,” Samantha says, “even if it ’s a quick good morning or good night, it just depends what shifts Dean is working but generally we get a day together once a week if I’m lucky!”