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FMCSA publishes proposed HOS rule changes 8/16/2019 Fleets, drivers coming to like automated manual transmissions 8/14/2019 CVSA asks for new truck crash study 8/12/2019 Friday Short Haul - HOS revisions delayed, AEB mandate proposed, Koch sued for sex discrimination 8/9/2019 Kodiak Robotics takes lead in autonomous truck industry race 8/7/2019 New York City combats rash of cyclist/truck clashes 8/5/2019 Friday Short Haul - CRST wins lawsuit, OOIDA opposes insurance hike, UPSNav 8/2/2019 Mechanics shortage equals driver shortage in intensity 7/31/2019 DOT announces almost 1$ billion in grants to fix infrastructure 7/29/2019 Friday Short Haul - DOL on sleeper pay, UPS drone delivery, Geowiz ELDs 7/26/2019 FMCSA takes a look at assault, harassment of female and minority drivers 7/24/2019 It's hot out there, what's a trucker to do? Can't idle. 7/22/2019 Friday Short Haul - Utah truck rollovers, aging truckers, lifetime CDL bans 7/19/2019 Truck-mounted LED billboards coming under fire 7/17/2019 Trucker 'drones on' with unique approach to teaching driving skills 7/15/2019 Friday Short Haul - Rhode Island tolls, human smuggling, contractor vs employee status 7/12/2019 ELD mandate deadline looming, many still not compliant 7/10/2019 New "boot" device being deployed to threaten Walmart overnighters 7/8/2019 Friday Short Haul - Prime Inc vs Amazon, mother fights HOS changes, truck drivers appreciation week 7/5/2019 Proper way to fly the American flag on your truck this Fourth of July 7/3/2019 Roundabouts are becoming popular; but are they best for trucks? 7/1/2019 Friday Short Haul - Skills test proposal, driver shortage, hemp sentencing, driverless trucks 6/28/2019 Experts warn of active wildland fire season 6/26/2019 More states signing on to enlist truckers against human trafficking 6/24/2019 Friday Short Haul - Shippers of Choice, insurance rates, wheel spikes, WIT award 6/21/2019 Freight numbers not holding up to 2018's highs 6/19/2019 Truck safety group urges purges of drug abuse drivers 6/17/2019 Friday Short Haul - Self-driving certificate, truck platooning, trade war stacking up cargo 6/14/2019 HOS waiver coming soon for fireworks haulers 6/12/2019 FMCSA takes a further look at detention time 6/10/2019 Friday Short Haul - Autonomous delivery, HOS rules changes, CDL retest 6/7/2019 Roadcheck 2019 in effect this week 6/5/2019 Hemp arrest prompts USDA memo 6/3/2019 Friday Short Haul - Waymo big rigs, Move over sting, Under-21 comments 5/31/2019 Severe weather prompts renewed emergency declaration 5/29/2019 Memorial Day holiday is prime time for cargo thefts 5/25/2019 Friday Short Haul - Hauling hemp, road rage fatality, new rules for autonomous vehicles 5/24/2019 Autonomous trucks on USPS test run 5/22/2019 Future era of cab-less trucks will be the end of HOS rules 5/20/2019 Friday Short Haul - FMCSA under-21 comments, Tesla autonomous car crash, 24,000 drivers sign contract with YRC 5/17/2019 Under-21 interstate drivers getting serious look by FMCSA 5/15/2019 Trucker Buddy program matches drivers with a classroom; everyone wins 5/13/2019 Friday Short Haul - Driver awarded $80 million, ODFL driver wins, loading dock black hole 5/10/2019 Storm breaks out from Rockies, slams into Midwest, South 5/8/2019 Capacity issues have shippers looking at private fleets 5/6/2019 Friday Short Haul - HOS rules, dark skies, Falcon drivers 5/3/2019 'Bug' permits now required for four eastern states 5/1/2019 Simulator use is catching on for schools, carriers 4/29/2019 Friday Short Haul - Thinking electric, Penske opens charging station, border crossing crisis, railroads taking trucking business 4/26/2019 ELDs might not be the panacea that was hoped for 4/24/2019 Truck drivers may soon see "phantoms" driving yard trucks 4/22/2019 Friday Short Haul - Nikola big rigs, WIT welcomes Peterbilt, Oregon crashes, Border crossings 4/19/2019 Carriers claim financial benefit of putting up drivers in hotels 4/17/2019 Uber's IPO application reveals interesting data about its freight brokerage business 4/15/2019 Friday Short Haul - CDL examiner arrested, tolls proposed for trucks, marijuana use on the rise 4/12/2019 Smart Load Board will get carriers the loads they need 4/10/2019 Huge lines and long wait times greet carriers at Mexico border 4/8/2019 Friday Short Haul - Marijuana, ATA campaign, personal conveyance rules 4/5/2019 Over-the-air downloads revolutionize parameter updates 4/3/2019 Don't get scammed by skimmers 4/1/2019 Friday Short Haul -- New Cascadias honored, motorist survey, U.S, Xpress awarded, rest stop parking 3/29/2019 Legislators address underride collisions, propose more underguards for trucks, trailers 3/27/2019 Motorists soon may encounter a different kind of truck convoy 3/25/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Women in Trucking, irate motorist, FMCSA eases HOS, Safe-Cap 3/22/2019 Recent survey shows cost of roadside repairs is rising 3/20/2019 FMCSA announces drug and alcohol clearinghouse website 3/18/2019 Friday Short Haul - Swift settlement, driver shortage myth, TCA Best Fleet award 3/15/2019 The hidden danger of looking but not seeing 3/13/2019 Accident scammers target trucks for financial payout 3/11/2019 3/9/2019 3/9/2019 Friday Short Haul - Snow on the roof, bypassing toll road, Waze under fire 3/8/2019 Retailers blame driver shortage for price increases 3/6/2019 Drivers' smartphones may be clue to road roughness 3/4/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Freight rates, HOS changes, tonnage reports 3/1/2019 New tax changes hit drivers hard 2/27/2019 FMCSA to implement under-21 interstate driver program for former military 2/25/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Connecticut tolls proposed, hydrogen fuel-cell trucks, cell phone use 2/22/2019 Congress committee looks at state of America's highways 2/20/2019 Number of cargo thefts is down; but dollar value about the same 2/18/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Crossing the border, CA sues FMCSA, Lobbying against larger trucks 2/15/2019 Detention - A problem still in search of a solution 2/13/2019 February Highway Angels honorees named 2/11/2019 Friday Short Haul -- C.R. England announces pay raises, eCommerce impact on trucking, TCA announces best fleets 2/8/2019 Is a guaranteed minimum pay the solution to the driver shortage? 2/6/2019 Long CDL testing wait times cost economy billions of dollars; not helping driver shortage 2/4/2019 Friday Short Haul -- Walmart hiring, Uber Freight App, Speed-limiter Law, America's Road Team 2/1/2019 Cranking -- The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly 1/30/2019 California survives challenge to its low-carbon fuel standards 1/28/2019 Friday Short Haul - Highway robbery ... autonomous trucks ... new trailers 1/25/2019 LithiumHub enters jump-starter market with Jumpbooster JP30 1/23/2019 2019 Looks Good For The Transportation Industry 1/21/2019 Raymond Burt named TMC Trainer of the Month for February 2018 3/28/2018 TMC Transportation Announces Recipient of Prestigious Wheel Master Award 3/7/2018 TMC Transportation Named The Home Depot’s Flatbed Carrier of the Year For Fourth Straight Year 2/28/2018 Pay Raises & New Peterbilts for PAM Drivers 2/26/2018 New DOT Drug Testing Rules Effective Jan 1, 2018 1/11/2018 Amtrak Derailment: Trucks Haul 270,000 Pound Locomotive Engine During Cleanup 12/21/2017 Pepsi Places Largest Order Yet For Tesla Electric Trucks 12/12/2017 Kavin Hallett named Trainer of the Month for October 2017 12/8/2017 Over 100,000 Truck Drivers Likely Have Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea And More Testing Is On The Way 8/10/2017 Drivers Share Their Best Tips, Tricks, And Secrets For Life On The Road 7/18/2017 Drivers Are Losing Money By Taking The Wrong Approach 7/13/2017 Truckers and Guns: What Is and Is Not Legal 7/6/2017 Preparing To Go Solo For The First Time? Experienced Drivers Share Their Best Advice 6/29/2017 The Truck Stop Survival Guide: Advice From Experienced Drivers 6/15/2017 The Worst Cities For Traffic In The U.S. For 2017 6/8/2017 We Ask Drivers How They Would Make The Logbook Rules Better 5/30/2017 Self Driving Trucks Are Not Coming Anytime Soon 5/25/2017 11/30/-0001

Fleets, drivers coming to like automated manual transmissions

Dave Wickenhauser on Wed, August 14, 2019

Last Updated: Tue, August 13, 2019

If a poll was to be taken among first-time students asking what their worst fears were about learning to drive a truck it's a solid bet that shifting a manual 10-speed, 13-speed or higher would figure quite heavily in the results.

Even many veteran drivers who have millions of miles behind them and many, many millions of gear shifts stressing their tired, old joints might admit that they wouldn't complain if there was a better way to get through the driving day.

Today, beginning drivers and grizzled veterans alike will appreciate that there is a new technology called AMT, automated manual transmission, that is becoming increasingly integrated into commercial fleets as well as driving schools' lesson trucks.

In fact, Class 8 truck manufacturers report that AMTs have now outpaced manual transmissions as the standard requested by fleets.

Not to be confused with torque-converter fully automatics, AMTs incorporate a technology that operates a clutch and changes gears according to intelligent digital input from sensors. Fleets converting to AMTs report up to a 3 percent gain in fuel economy, lower maintenance costs, higher driver retention and easier recruiting.

For example, NFI, a 2,600-vehicle commercial carrier out of New Jersey, has almost finished converting its entire fleet to automated manual transmissions.

Bill Bliem, senior vice president of fleet services, told Transport Topics, “We started the transition at end of 2014, into 2015, and then made it standard in our fleet. We’re seeing increased fuel economy, lower maintenance costs and happier drivers.”

Proponents of automated manual transmissions say the benefit of this new technology in making every driver as good as a highly experienced veteran shifter reduces maintenance costs by saving wear and tear on the shifting components, as well as drive train components and even in tire wear.

As the fleets shift to AMTs, truck driving schools have shifted to turning out students with automatic-only restrictions on their commercial licenses. Long considered a "must" for a student to master the clutch, truck-speed, engine-rev, gearshift dance, fleet recruiters and the new drivers themselves are very happy with the move to AMTs.

And as fleets increasingly cast their eyes toward the female sector for a virtually untapped large pool from which to lure new drivers, they believe the automatic manual transmission can be just one more recruiting enticement.

Different manufactures have developed the technology in slightly different ways, but all incorporate sensors that read the road as well as the engine, and tell the transmission when to upshift or downshift according to road grade, vehicle speed, acceleration, torque demand, vehicle weight and any type of resistances.

Volvo, for example boasts its proprietary I-Shift automated manual transmission; which is in its third generation of development. As the Volvo engineers also design Volvo's engines, the integration with the transmission is seamless, with the transmission "reading" the engine and knowing just when is the most efficient time to shift.

An added benefit is that an AMT pairs with semi-autonomous driver-assist features to automatically downshift, say in a collision-avoidance scenario, where the driver might be concentrating on braking instead.

The predictive technology incorporated into AMTs does take some getting used to. The automated manual transmission "brain" knows it can save fuel by putting the truck into neutral on a downgrade, something that would be unheard of for a driver of a manual transmission to do. Drivers learning AMTs for the first time are warned to try to avoid shifting into gear holds or going fully manual.

“The predictive cruise control, which uses a database of terrain mapping to adjust the speed of the truck as it crests a hill, and then allow it to coast as needed down the backside, works wonderfully in most situations,” veteran driver John Kingsley told American Trucker after test driving for two weeks and 7,300 miles a 2018 Cascadia equipped with a 12-speed DT12 automated manual transmission.

He said his fuel mileage ranged from 8 mpg with a 79,000-pound load to 11 mpg with a 6,000-pound load.

“Overall, the truck continues to amaze me with its ability to handle shifting under just about every situation thrown at it,” he remarked in his American Trucker interview.

Some drivers encountering an AMT-equipped truck for the first time experience a natural resistance to the idea of driving a "manual," but quickly overcome that as their experience on the road grows.

Bliem told Transport Topics that drivers like the AMTs so much they express no desire to return to the manual transmission.

Kurt Swihart is a marketing director for Kenworth Truck Company. He told American Trucker recently that the aging population of truck drivers do appreciate the benefits of an automated manual transmission.

Swihart is quoted in American Trucker: “Often we’ve heard from our fleet customers who have chosen to equip their Kenworth T680s and Kenworth T880s with AMTs that their older drivers say how much they appreciate the ability to be more attentive to the traffic around them. They don’t have to quickly gear down to stop or slow down or gear up to get back up to highway speed. They also like how much more relaxed they feel at the end of their driving shifts.”

Sources: Transport Topics, Fleet Equipment, American Trucker

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Automatic Transmissions CDL Endorsements Choosing A Trucking Company Schneider National Tips For Shifting Truckers Technology

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