Life and Family

Doing Your Job

With more and more [automated] trannies coming on the market, wouldn't you think that there would be more incompetent drivers on the road? Handling the tranny makes up for at least 50% of driving the truck.

Interesting observation. Some would argue that removing a factor that demands so much of a driver’s attention would produce a less distracted driver, and a potentially safer driver. There are others who suggest that the manual dexterity required to manage a multi-speed non-synchronized transmission is a factor that prevents many people from ever considering a career in trucking.

Take away the anxiety created by the transmission, and you open up the profession to a whole new crowd of people. Whether they are competent or not remains to be seen, but I’d hardly say that someone who has difficulty managing a transmission wouldn’t make a navigator, traffic manager, customer service manager, etc. There’s clearly more to driving truck than just driving the truck, or at least just shifting gears.

Jim Park

Do you think that eventually all heavy trucks will be equipped with automatic transmissions? Will a standard-shift tranny become an option?

Certainly as the technology evolves, automated transmissions will become more prevalent, and with the changing nature of the workforce, more and more younger drivers will probably indicate a preference for the stickless transmissions, and that will drive their market share upward over time. I doubt the manual transmission will disappear entirely any time soon, but we will see an increase in the use of automated gearboxes.

I say automated instead of automatic because there is a difference.

An automatic transmission uses a torque converter instead of a clutch, and it employs a different kind of shifting mechanism. An automated transmission is actually a manual gearbox that uses a pair of servo motors to shift the gears instead of the driver using the gear shift. Later generations of automated transmissions have also done away with the traditional clutch, or at least the clutch pedal. The technology now allows the clutch to be operated automatically and controlled electronically, or they use a slightly different kind of clutch altogether, but there's still a mechanical separation of the flywheel and the input shaft on the tranny.

Jim Park

As a Canadian driver is there nothing that can be done about the new HOS rules, can we voice an opinion anywhere and hope that someone will look at it and rethink the HOS rules if they get enough of a response from drivers?

Nope. “Fraid not. The U.S. DOT is moving ahead with the plan, and as of Jan. 4 2004, all drivers who work in the U.S. will have to comply with the new rules.

There is currently a petition before the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, filed by the American Trucking Association, that would allow drivers to use a single sleeper berth period to extend the workday, without having to revert to the split sleeper option. That would make accounting for the delay time somewhat easier, by making the delays invisible, but it wouldn’t do much to help you get the sleep you need.

The rules will be a problem for drivers who expect everything else to be business as usual come Jan. 4, but for drivers who’d prefer to work with their carriers to get shippers to pay the REAL cost of moving freight, the cost of the delays should become obvious with the new rules, and then carrier could charge for that time.

Adding the cost of delays to the rate is a good thing, especially when the driver see the delay time showing up on their pay cheques. The only way to accomplish that is to make the time obvious.

Jim Park

Can U.S. Customs seize a truck driver’s lunch if there are any beef products in the lunch bag? And, why is the Canadian border almost never backed up like the U.S. border? - 03-Jun-03
Are there any companies that you know of who will hire people with misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana? I pled nolo contendre to a charge over four years ago (my ex put it in our luggage on the way back from Jamaica). - 10-May-03
Why are Maritime company drivers paid less? When we haul the same loads from U.S. east or from east to west. - 20-Feb-03
What size engine would you recommend for general haulage from Canada to the U.S.? Is 500 hp too big? - 28-Jan-03
I am worried about the United States opening the border to the Mexican trucks? Will this affect Canadian jobs and pay rates? - 04-Apr-02
Is a carrier required to pay interest on my holdback, and is there any guarantee I’ll ever see that money again? - 26-Jan-02
Do you think that the borders will ever return to normal after the Sept 11 attacks? - 20-Jan-02
I am looking for a trip planner software which provides truck information (i.e. no truck routes, low bridges). - 04-Jan-02
Are there any courses available to train for a dispatcher's position? - 17-Mar-01
I’m an Aussie looking for work in Canada on a temporary basis. Where do I start? - 05-Oct-00
Can a carrier which you have worked for 10 years, as a Canada-only driver make it a condition of employment to take a drug and alcohol test when you do not drive in the U.S.? - 02-Mar-00
Can a carrier require me to undergo a medical examination, including a drug and alcohol test, prior to hiring me? - 17-Jan-00
How can I recover the value of personnal items stolen from my truck? - 17-Dec-99
How can I keep wet snow from building up under my windshield wipers? - 09-Nov-99
How do I get that really shiny look to my tires? - 28-Oct-99