La France buissonnière : une maman poule au pays des routiers

Laetitia Guilhermet, devant un des poids lourds qu’elle conduit, à Chambéry, le 12 septembre 2023.

TGentlemen truck drivers, strong-arm truckers, and muscular men in tank tops, take note: out of seventeen candidates, three women have qualified for the final of the Trophée des routiers, which will take place on Thursday, September 21st, in Monchy-Saint-Eloi (Oise). Organized by social protection and professional training organizations in the transportation sector, this event awards an unofficial title of “best truck driver” in France every year.

Never before have so many female drivers been registered for the national competition, even though the profession struggles to become more feminine (only 3% of truck drivers are women, according to the Prospective Observatory of Jobs and Qualifications in Transport and Logistics). The victory of one of them would be a strong symbol. “Even though personally, I have never been the subject of mockery in my profession. On the contrary, my male colleagues have always been very helpful,” says Laetitia Guilhermet, 37, an employee of the Jacky Perrenot group in the Chambéry branch.

In late May, in Jonage (Rhône), this mother of three children easily won the regional selection for Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The program included three tests: a multiple-choice questionnaire on safety and hygiene; performing a maneuver on a simulator; and navigating through a city while using the least amount of fuel possible. The same three exercises await the applicants in Monchy-Saint-Eloi.

Laetitia Guilhermet did not specifically prepare for the competition. The distance of 2,500 to 3,000 kilometers she covers every week, between France and Italy, driving a 44-ton truck loaded with pallets of mineral water, is the best training. “I feel at home in a truck. I wouldn’t change my job for anything in the world,” says the woman whom her colleagues nickname Lora, in reference to a small transport company created in Ariège by the father of her two eldest children, Loratrans.

“I cannot reword”

Her passion for heavy loads dates back to her early childhood. “I must have been 5 or 6 years old,” she says. “It came to me like others become nuns because the Lord called them. Trucks made me dream. They were imposing, majestic, they represented freedom.” No one in her family had ever driven a heavy truck before her. Her father, a railway worker, demanded that she pass her baccalaureate. In the end, she obtained a professional certificate in “driving and services in road transport.”

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