Automatic trucks are either fully automatic or Automated Manual Transmissions-AMT that have a gearbox shifted by a computer, and then there are the manual transmission trucks where the gears are shifted manually by the driver.
Some truckers enjoy the simplicity and the ease of driving an automatic truck, while others prefer the complete control of their truck, which they get with the manual transmission.
Even though there is a bigger movement towards the automatic transmission trucks, there are still truckers who will always choose manual, even if they have to look a little harder, considering that the number of manual transmission trucks is a lot smaller on the market nowadays. Manual transmissions have always been the standard in the trucking industry, even though they can be tricky to learn how to drive.
We know what the preferences are, but why do some drivers prefer an automatic or manual transmission and which one is better? Let’s go over some characteristics and weigh some pros and cons.
Training and Ease of driving
Driving with an automatic transmission is easier, it is easier to learn and it allows the driver to focus and put their full attention on the road, while the manual transmission requires constant shifting of gears and multitasking, it requires more training and more skill, which is why more and more truckers will choose the automatic transmission truck. But there are some drivers who find that driving an AMT is too relaxing which in turn makes the driver getting drowsy and falling asleep, while the manual drivers might get more tired because of the constant gear shifts, they still have to stay focused throughout the whole ride.
Some would say that being in control over the gear shifting gives more control over the truck, a manual driver will shift the gears faster than the ATM computer will which makes the ATMs accelerate too slowly, but on the other hand, the AMT provides a safer and smoother driving experience.
We talked about different types of expenses that trucking companies face, and ways to lower them. One of the largest expenses in the trucking industry is the fuel costs.
Experienced drivers know how to drive to save fuel, this is an important skill to have when working for a company. Automatic transmission maximizes gas mileage which can save companies a lot of money, this also helps the less experienced drivers. Manual transmissions and busy roads, where drivers are forced to switch gears often are not a good combination for fuel usage, this is one more reason why many companies are choosing the automatic transmission trucks.
As we already mentioned, drivers who can drive a manual transmission truck are harder to train, so they are harder to find too. A driver who knows how to drive a manual truck can also easily switch to an automatic transmission truck, which is not the case the other way around without any training. Manual transmission cars and trucks are not as easy to find in the U.S., young people usually don’t learn how to drive a manual car or truck, which makes companies switch to automatic trucks to try to attract young drivers into their teams. There is a driver shortage in the U.S. at the moment, the average driver age is pretty high, which is why companies are trying to adjust and make the job more approachable and appealing for young people, who might find the thought of driving a manual transmission truck intimidating.
There are still a lot of trained truck drivers who can handle a manual transmission rig, and they will almost always go for the manual truck if they have the choice, but AMTs are here to stay. AMTs have the ability to save companies money through fuel economy, they are safer, an option that could attract new, young drivers, and the technology used in AMTs is always improving. Automatic transmissions can be more expensive, but it is definitely easier to find drivers for them, which is why the future is leaning more towards them than the manual transmission trucks. Manual truck drivers will still have more options to choose from, so they are still highly valued in the industry, considering that the companies which had the manual transmission trucks can’t replace them so easily. The most important thing, no matter what type of transmission you chose, is to stay focused and stay safe.