NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – One demographic is entering the trucking industry at an increasing rate – women.

While breaking into a once-male-dominated profession presented some challenges, it did not stop these women and their drive to ride to the top of the trucking industry.

Regina Robinson said she’s driving her destiny. She owns a trucking company, Prime Time Logistics, LLC., based in North Charleston. She’s also a trucker herself.

“There is something soothing about being on the road,” she said. “I’ve always been fascinated with trucking and logistics. I remember being a little girl just seeing the trucks on the road – where are they going? Who told them to go there? How did they get there? Just always been fascinated with the industry.”

She believes you really can drive your own destiny, whether you want to drive locally or be all over the road. “It’s not just from a driver’s perspective but a financial perspective, you really can control what that looks like for you,” she said.

Robinson is part of a growing group of women.

Ellen Voie is president and founder of the Women in Trucking Association, a non-profit trades professional organization.

“We have about 6,400 members in ten countries. Our mission is three-fold- first, it’s to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, to address obstacles that might keep women from succeeding in the industry, and the third part is to celebrate the success of our members and tell their stories,” she explained.

Voie said the number of women entering the trucking industry has increased substantially.

“Absolutely, there is an increase,” she said. “We’ve seen it grow from 3% fifteen years ago to 10% now, so there’s been quite a growth, especially in the last couple of years.”

She said when it comes to pay equity, the trucking is miles ahead.

“Women are kind of embracing this as a second career — a second or third career. You won’t believe how many women we get coming out of nursing, or we have attorneys, and accountants, and women coming out of other careers. The big draw to come into the trucking industry, first of all, you don’t have someone looking over your shoulders and you make the same amount of money as a man. You’re not paid a different wage just because you’re a female,” she explained.

The big obstacle: money to get started, to get a CDL and funds to purchase a truck.

But those in the industry say the payoff is worth it. Drivers can start in the mid $40 to $50,000 right out of school while owner/operators can make more than $200,000 a year per truck, before factoring in fuel, insurance, and other costs.

Voie said they hope more women will make the shift from drivers to owners. “We need to get more women starting trucking companies,” she said.

Women, like Marcella Pinckney, who owns a fleet of trucks through her company, MP’s Transport.

“I actually own and operate my own trucking company,” she said. “My husband said I shouldn’t own anything I didn’t know how to operate. So, that in turn, made me go to school to get my CDL, my commercial driver’s license.”

Pinckney said when she first started her company 13 years ago, many didn’t take her seriously.

“You do have those out there in the industry who think that women can’t. It made me go harder. I’m the type of person all you have to do is tell me I can’t and I’m going to show you that I can.”

She said the work keeps her on her toes because it’s always evolving. And she loves the freedom it gives to be present with her children.

Robinson said looking back, she sees how far she’s come. Now she’s moving ahead.

“I’m hoping to be in partnership with women in the industry as we grow,” she said.  “I’m excited about the direction the industry is going in. A lot of women getting into the industry that was once a male-dominated industry, but you see a lot of women coming in as truck drivers, truck owners, and also business owners under their own authority. I’m excited about that direction.”

Women in Trucking Association has a 150 challenge – to get 150 women to start their own fleet or expand their fleet… and they are almost there.

They will help walk women through the process of financing, insurance, choosing a career, and other paperwork needed.