Whether driving a tractor-trailer truck or your own passenger vehicle, there are some people who enjoy the complete control they get by driving a manual transmission vehicle while others prefer the ease and simplicity of an automatic. In the personal vehicle market, fewer and fewer people are opting for manual transmission vehicles, in fact, you might be hard-pressed to walk onto a lot and find one.
In the trucking industry, manual transmissions have always been the standard. With as many as 18 gears to shift down, tractor-trailer trucks can be tricky to learn, especially for those who are inexperienced with driving a manual transmission vehicle. Recent trends have shown an increase in automatic transmissions coming off the assembly lines and hitting the roads, but which is better?
Manual transmission trucks are, of course, ones that the driver manually shifts the gears. Automatic trucks come in either fully automatic like an automatic car, or Automated Manual Transmissions or AMTs that have a gearbox shifted by a computer.
For many, preference comes down to control. Being in control of when to shift up or down gives the driver more control over the truck. One of the biggest complaints about Automated Manual Transmissions is that they accelerate too slowly. The computer works its way through the gears efficiently as it is programmed to do, a driver would manually shift faster to gain momentum faster.
AMTs are simply easier to drive. When a driver doesn’t have to concentrate on shifting, he or she can focus on what’s happening on the road ahead. AMTs are considered to be safer than manuals that take greater focus. In heavy traffic, Manual Transmissions can be downright tedious. Not having to constantly shift gears as you creep along can make dealing with stressful traffic a little easier.
Shifting through all the gears can be tiring as well, although many drivers feel the opposite is true. Some people feel that driving an AMT is too relaxing and being too relaxed when driving a big rig can lead to drowsy driving and falling asleep behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is a huge problem for truckers who spend hours on end driving the country’s highways and is a leading cause of highway accidents.
Experienced truckers are generally good about driving to save fuel. If they’re owner/operators, fuel costs are one of their biggest expenses and for truckers who work for trucking companies, there are bonuses for adhering to the company’s fuel economy standards. When the computer is doing the shifting, gas mileage is maximized and the savings can be considerable, especially when the drivers are less experienced.
The U.S. is currently experiencing a severe truck driver shortage that is having an impact on shipping costs nationwide. For this reason, truck companies are looking to Automated Manual Transmissions or Automatics as a way to bring in more drivers. As the number of manual transmissions in cars diminishes, so does the number of young people who have ever driven a manual. Manual transmissions are seen as a hindrance to younger applicants who may find the thought of driving a manual transmission truck intimidating. AMTs are easier to be trained on, and the ease of training also shortens the training period.
The current average driving age in the U.S. is 55 with more drivers retiring than coming in to take their places. AMTs and Automatics allow older drivers to drive longer. When arthritis might stop a driver from being able to shift as they once did, an AMT makes it possible for them to put off retirement, which is a huge help to the industry.
Although lovers of Manual Transmissions may not like it, Automated Manual Transmissions are the direction the industry is headed due to their ability to save money through fuel economy, driver recruitment, driver retention, and safety.
Whether you drive a manual or automatic, Trucker Search provides a way for truckers to find a great company to work for or for shippers to find great truckers to join their team. Go to Trucker Search and begin your search today.