Features, Truckie Profiles

Young gun truckie breaking barriers and kicking goals

Inspired by her father and grandfather, for profoundly deaf HC truckie Taylor Stegman, 23, it’s always been about the trucks.

Born into a trucking family, Stegman found her passion for trucking early on. She recalls cruising in the truck from an early age with her dad Tony Johnston and pop Noel Johnston – and hoping to one day follow in their footsteps and make them proud.

“When I was about seven, dad picked me up from school in the truck one day due to the floods. I felt like the coolest kid on the planet,” she said.

Based in Port Kembla in NSW, Stegman has been driving trucks since she was 18 and says that being in the truck cabin is her “happy place”. 

By 19, she upgraded from her MR to HR, and then at 20, she got her HC licence. 

“Fresh out of school, I spent ten months working with racehorses until I was old enough to get my MR licence. While my school mates were doing their HSC, I was out earning a living,” Stegman explained. 

Stegman wears a cochlear implant, which allows her to hear like a hearing person.

“My parents were never the type to wrap me up in cotton wool, so for as long as I can remember, I’d jump at every opportunity to spend the day with pop or dad in their trucks.

“Because of that, I’ve known from a very young age that I wanted to be a truck driver and I’ve never changed my mind.”

Upon securing her MR licence, Stegman began working in the family businesses Worldwide Demolitions and Worldwide Skip Bins, learning to drive the trucks and operate the machinery. 

“The first time you drive a truck can be daunting as hell but each day it gets easier as you build your confidence and experience,” she said.

Through her time in the family business, Stegman was able to hone her HC driving skills, before recently taking on a role at Ross Transport in early November. 

As she continues her training with Ross Transport, Stegman has been steering a Western Star with a live bottom trailer, and a Kenworth truck and dog tipper.

“I’m still very new and have lots to learn – not only about the type of work I’m doing and the different trucks I’m driving, but also finding my way around in busy Sydney traffic. I absolutely love driving, meeting new people and going to new places.

“Each day brings new challenges and adventures; and overcoming the daily issues truckies face only adds to the enjoyment and excitement in my job.

Stegman is currently in training to be a truck and dog driver, carting sand, gravel and more across the Illawarra, Southern Highlands and Sydney.

“Ross Transport has been extremely supportive and understanding of everything – checking in daily to see how the day was and if I’m enjoying it. And if I’m not comfortable with something, they will remove me from that situation,” Stegman said.

“I’d like to thank Ross Transport for their understanding, their will to train people and for being such a supportive and great company to work for – and also for giving women a go and giving them a chance to get a head-start in trucking.”

She says that being profoundly deaf has added additional challenges to her trucking career. “But to have conquered so many barriers to realise my dream feels incredible.”

Stegman wears a cochlear implant, which allows her to hear like a hearing person. 

“Aside from the challenges of learning to drive the truck, I had to get used to talking on the radio and understanding people on it. I faced challenges with people trying to tell me how to do my job and felt I had to prove myself by showing them I knew what I was doing,” she said.

For Stegman, having a great support network has been a blessing. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to have this support both at my old job and now at Ross Transport. I hope my story gives other hard-of-hearing or profoundly deaf people the courage to follow their dreams.

“If a profoundly deaf person has the will and wants to drive trucks, then I say go for it. If myself and profoundly deaf MC driver Candice Lureman can do it, we all can. We have amazing support teams to back us and guide us.”

Stegman also hopes to see more and more women joining the industry as truck drivers too. “My honest advice to any female wanting to get into trucking is to just bite the bullet. It’ll be the best thing you’ll ever do. Yes, there’ll be challenges but you’ll find an amazing team of women and men around you, ready to offer advice and assistance.”

While Stegman hopes to one day progress to her MC licence down the track, for now she’s content with where she’s at. “I’ve always dreamed of driving road trains in the outback, but first I want to work my way up to that. For now I’m living my two-year dream of getting the opportunity to work at a company I have been eyeing off for a long time,” she said.

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