WASHINGTON — Desiree Wood, a truck driver for BratCat Express and founder of the nonprofit Real Women In Trucking (RWIT), has been appointed to a committee for the Transportation Research Board (TRB).
The TRB’s Freight Transportation Planning and Logistics committee determines best practices and measures for carrier fleet operations, public infrastructure improvements and air, rail and marine transportation in urban and rural areas.
“I’m proud and honored to announce I have accepted an appointment to the standing committee on Freight Transportation Planning and Logistics for The National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine Transportation Research Board,” Wood said.
Wood is also a board member for the Truckers Emergency Assistance Responders, a nonprofit organization that works to help truck drivers that need assistance because of carrier abandonment, wage theft, accidents, injury and other factors.
“The last couple of years, I’ve been appointed to a couple of different freight advisory committees,” Wood said. “It’s great to have people that have a background in science and a passion for transportation and freight movement but there are certain things you need somebody that actually is ‘boots on the ground’ (to provide input).”
There are 37 additional members of the standing committee. Wood is the only current truck driver on the board. Michael Belzer, a former truck driver who is now a professor of economics at Wayne State University in Detroit, also serves on the committee.
While the committee has produced several task forces to review research and technology that address supply chain issues, energy and harm to the environment, Wood hopes to tackle topics like electrification, truck parking improvements, and getting more drivers involved at a national level to influence the local level.
Wood has previously been appointed to committees such as the Nevada and Florida Freight Advisory committees. She says these experiences have allowed her to explore truck parking data and network with freight planners.
“I find that these individuals are really trying to solve some important problems for us and need access to truck drivers’ wisdom and knowledge,” Wood said. “It’s an honor (to be appointed), but it’s an honor for the drivers to have a voice.”
TRB’s Freight Transportation Planning and Logistics committee is one sector of the multifaceted National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which holds seven divisions of research, committees and advisory methods. The Transportation Research Board is the largest of the seven.
“We research just about every topic under the sun,” said Paul Macke, director of communications for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. “The Transportation Research Board has done quite a bit of research done over the years in the trucking industry, including the workforce issues and highway issues related to truckers.”
The board uses its research findings to produce an annual report that includes documentation of its own meetings, policy advising, research and workforce development. The TRB has made advancements in recent years to include the transportation industry and has seen more than 130 additional transportation employees in its virtual 2021 annual meeting.
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