Truckie feels at home in the industry

Mel Foot and her truck. She said once you get the hang of it, it is actually pretty easy to drive. Photo: Ella Stokes
Mel Foot and her truck. She said once you get the hang of it, it is actually pretty easy to drive. Photo: Ella Stokes
You may not expect to see a female behind the wheel of a truck and trailer unit heading down the road, but one Dunedin truckie says it's becoming more common.

Mel Foot works for Allied Fuel.

She does nightshifts five days a week and wouldn't change it for anything.

Mrs Foot has been in the transport industry for the past five years.

Prior to that she was a nurse until she suffered a back injury in an accident and could no longer lift heavy items.

Her husband Chris was already a truck driver so she thought she would give it a go.

''I haven't looked back . . . I was lucky to have my husband to teach me.''

She started out driving delivery trucks, and now transports fuel throughout Otago, Central Otago and Twizel and Omarama.

From 4pm until 4am Mrs Foot is in charge of a high-productivity 23m-long 50-tonne vehicle which could carry up to 42,000 litres of petrol.

She said she remembered when she first crossed the Mataura bridge, cut in too quickly and found it a bit ''sketchy''.

Mrs Foot said she liked working nightshifts as ''I enjoy my own company and the roads are quiet and the petrol stations aren't congested . . . I listen to a lot of music.''

''Your body gets used to it.''

She said she enjoyed transporting fuel and as long as you abide by the regulations it was straightforward.

Working in a male-dominated environment had had its hurdles in the past.

''When I was first going for interviews I got laughed at because I was a women . . . it, was definitely degrading and disheartening.''

However, Mrs Foot said it was becoming more acceptable now and she felt at home working in the industry.

''I'm treated as an equal and my gender doesn't matter . . . I don't get any special treatment which is what I like about it.''

Mrs Foot said she would encourage people, both men and women, to get into the industry, but would like to see the price of a heavy vehicle licence reduced.

''It's really expensive to get into it . . . I was lucky I had help but it would've been really hard if I didn't.''

She said truck driving shouldn't just be seen as a job. ''It's a great career and I'll be doing it forever.''

''It's just like being a tourist in your own country.''

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