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Editor’s Note

Special thanks to Rebecca Gibson, Mike Link, Don Holder, Kim Yates, Cristi Polen, Paul Rodriguez, Jessica Polito-Tucker, Theresa Torres, Marcia Ferranto, Mary Turkington and Kimberly Vasconez for their participation in this quarter's issue.

Editor’s Note

The transportation industry has long been recognized as a predominately male field. Even in today’s evolving society that sees many females pursuing and maintaining professional long-term careers in other fields, men continue to hold the majority of professional roles centered around transportation infrastructure and management. This quarter my team and I began to wonder just how many females are currently represented in the Safety Service Patrol field. What roles – managers, drivers, engineers, operators – do females maintain in the field? And how, if at all, does their involvement change the environment for their coworkers and for the public?

After some initial research, we discovered that women’s roles in the Safety Service Patrol field have not yet been researched, tracked or documented. While efforts have been made to promote and encourage women to participate in transportation-related careers, very few of these efforts have focused specifically on incorporating women into Safety Service Patrol positions. Our team turned to Tara Baukus Mello to research and to interview patrol contacts and female Safety Service Patrol professionals to answer those questions that until now have gone unanswered.

Both female and male contacts at the managerial level helped to frame the current state of the woman’s role in Safety Service Patrols. We would like to thank New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) Statewide Manager for the Highway Emergency Local Patrol (HELP) Rebecca Gibson, NYSDOT HELP Project Manager Mike Link and Indiana DOT Hoosier Helper Manager Don Holder for their input as supervisors of Safety Service Patrols with female employees and insight into the trends they themselves have witnessed over the years with females in the industry. Of course, our research would not have been complete without hearing firsthand from Maryland State Highway Administration Emergency Patrol Driver Kim Yates, Missouri DOT Motor Assist Operator Cristi Polen, NYSDOT HELP Driver Paula Rodriguez, NYSDOT Dispatcher-turned-Administrator Jessica Polito-Tucker, and Indiana DOT Hoosier Helper Theresa Torres. We thank these ladies for sharing their experiences with us and for helping our readers paint a better picture of the women’s role in this field. In addition, we thank Women in Transportation President Marcia Ferranto, not only for her insight on this topic, but also for the work she does every day to help encourage more women to participate in Safety Service Patrols and other transportation jobs.

We are especially proud to feature a profile on Mary Turkington, Chairman for the Kansas Turnpike Authority and “First Lady of the Trucking Industry” in this quarter’s issue. Since 1946 when Mary first entered the transportation industry right out of college, she has proven to be a pioneer for women looking to work in the industry. With over 50 years in transportation under her belt, Mary continues to be a role model for all of her peers – both male and female – leading by example with dignity, pride and compassion. We at Safe Highway Matters would like to extend our thanks to Mary and the KTA for their willingness to participate in this issue and their dedication to transportation initiatives.

Lastly, we want to be sure to encourage all of our readers to read our sidebar article on the FHWA’s Traffic Incident Management Responder Course provided by Kimberly Vásconez, Team Leader of Traffic Incident & Events Management for FHWA. This important course is helping traffic incident management professionals across the country to improve training and safety regulations. Thank you to Kimberly for supplying this important information.

As always, a very big “thank you” to all who contributed to this issue from our feature article to the Driver Question of the Quarter to News and Notes. We invite you to share your feedback on this issue and to provide input and suggestions for future article topics. Contact us directly or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter to share your thoughts throughout the year.

Wishing you safe travels,

Rita Gallagher

Editor in Chief

Back to Safe Highway Matters: Spring 2013

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