Jess and Santaya

Women driving shift

Women driving shift

After four years on the job, SouthRoads Pilot Vehicle Driver Jess Wilson still loves the everchanging views from her "office on wheels". Whether it’s driving over Southland’s Jolly Hills to Lumsden under blue skies or marvelling at the coastal views on State Highway 99 along the bottom of the South Island, road maintenance in Southland is work that provides stunning scenery and interesting challenges in equal measure.

“Every day we are somewhere new,” she says.

“I can be driving the pilot vehicle, or sometimes on the tools. That’s the best thing about it – it is different every day.

Jess has her Wheels, Tracks and Rollers driver licence endorsement and recently got her Class 2 Licence allowing her to operate small trucks. Next, she will learn to drive sweeper trucks so she can step in and to replace her work colleague Santaya Meikle when needed.

Santaya works closely with Jess, driving a SouthRoads sweeper truck laden with equipment to support road maintenance sites in Southland. She is often out on the roads with Jess as part of the day-to-day cyclic team – working on marker pegs, potholes and sweeping – or responding to weather events, traffic incidents and occasionally assisting emergency services.

“We go to callouts after accidents to assist with traffic or to provide privacy for those involved,” says Santaya.

“I quite enjoy going to callouts because you are helping someone out at a vital time.”

Jess and Santaya believe it is a great time for women to embark on a career in road maintenance and join the movement.

“When I started working about five years ago, people would sometimes baby me a bit as a woman in the industry,” says Santaya. “But they don’t now – the industry has changed.”

Santaya’s advice to women considering a career in roading?

“Just do it. It’s satisfying and it’s good to be able to prove to the guys that we can do it just as well.”

This article originally appeared on the EP!C Work NZ website.