Should I Choose A Company That Trains On Automatic Transmissions And Have That Restriction On My CDL?

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Larry B. 's Comment
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Apparently CFI and Prime CDL training programs are now testing their students out on automatic transmission trucks since they are going all auto so the new drivers that go through their training will have that restriction on there license.

Would you experienced drivers consider this a deal breaker if you were just now coming into the industry. I know a lot of companies are going all Auto. I was considering CFI because of there school in Springfield,MO but now I don't know.

What are your thoughts on this?

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Old School's Comment
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Larry, my personal feelings on this matter are that it's not a deal breaker. Sure, it would be nice to not have that restriction, but it's no deal breaker. Most everybody is driving auto-shift transmissions these days. They are very commonplace in most commercial fleets now.

I don't know if you've seen it, but we recently published an article on this very subject. Take a look at the article Do Real Truckers Drive Automatics? and maybe it will help you decide what to do.

Chip Bagg's Comment
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Not a deal breaker at all. Especially if a company like the size of Prime is going to them. Even a smaller family owned company like mine just bought 2 and gave them to the senior drivers and no complaints

Big Scott's Comment
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I don't think CFI is doing that. I'll try to remember to try and ask that tomorrow.

Big Scott's Comment
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Also, CFI's school in Springfield, Truck Dynasty, is a private school and most likely doesn't have the money to buy auto shift trucks. Crowder College, in Neosho has both I think. With CFI the fleet is almost all auto shift. I tested on manual. Chuck and Don, more recent Crowder graduates tested on manuals as well.

Harry H. [ navypoppop ]'s Comment
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Consider that everyone in this country that has a drivers license other than a CDL does not have an "auto trans only" designation on their licenses. Why in the hell do these states think that we should have that restriction placed on us. All schools and companies should have their trainees obtain their training and licenses in manual transmissions. Suppose you have a break down and your company sends a rental to you to complete the delivery and it shows up with a manual transmission? "Oh sorry, you have to take it back and bring me an automatic to drive as I'm not certified." Yeah right. I for one wouldn't even consider a CDL with "automatic transmission only" restriction. Besides, it would be better if drivers were certified in both transmissions. What if a company changes directions and goes back to manuals, do all their drivers have to re-certify? Just a thought.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Larry B. 's Comment
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I don't think CFI is doing that. I'll try to remember to try and ask that tomorrow.

Yeah if you could check that would be great. The guy that told me that went through the CFI training At Crowder college.

G-Town's Comment
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Consider that everyone in this country that has a drivers license other than a CDL does not have an "auto trans only" designation on their licenses. Why in the hell do these states think that we should have that restriction placed on us. All schools and companies should have their trainees obtain their training and licenses in manual transmissions. Suppose you have a break down and your company sends a rental to you to complete the delivery and it shows up with a manual transmission? "Oh sorry, you have to take it back and bring me an automatic to drive as I'm not certified." Yeah right. I for one wouldn't even consider a CDL with "automatic transmission only" restriction. Besides, it would be better if drivers were certified in both transmissions. What if a company changes directions and goes back to manuals, do all their drivers have to re-certify? Just a thought.

.

In three years it will be very difficult to find a manual transmission truck in any of the large TL carrier’s fleets, including school trucks provided in any of the Paid CDL Training Programs

It’s inevitable.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Consider that everyone in this country that has a drivers license other than a CDL does not have an "auto trans only" designation on their licenses. Why in the hell do these states think that we should have that restriction placed on us. All schools and companies should have their trainees obtain their training and licenses in manual transmissions. Suppose you have a break down and your company sends a rental to you to complete the delivery and it shows up with a manual transmission? "Oh sorry, you have to take it back and bring me an automatic to drive as I'm not certified." Yeah right. I for one wouldn't even consider a CDL with "automatic transmission only" restriction. Besides, it would be better if drivers were certified in both transmissions. What if a company changes directions and goes back to manuals, do all their drivers have to re-certify? Just a thought.

Harry, we certainly understand your concern. Though we're not fans of having any sort of restriction on your license either, in this case we don't think it's a real big deal. At least not anymore.

Automatic transmissions are here to stay. Almost all of the large carriers are fully automatic or in the process of switching to fully automatic. Smaller carriers are also beginning to make the switch, and before long the ratio of automatics to manuals will be extremely high, just like it is with 4 wheelers today.

Automatics are here to stay because:

  • They are more fuel efficient
  • You can't hurt the engine by over-revving it on the downhills
  • Eliminating the need to shift has removed a big distraction for the driver so you can now focus better on more important things
  • It eliminates the danger of missing a gear on a downhill, and the inconvenience and danger of missing one on a big climb
  • It makes the initial CDL training faster and easier for new drivers
  • It eliminates an intimidating factor that prevents some people from taking a shot at trucking when in fact there is a big demand for drivers

I could go on, and in fact I may write an article about this at some point.

What if a company changes directions and goes back to manuals, do all their drivers have to re-certify? Just a thought.

I honestly can not envision a scenario where that would happen at a major carrier. An owner operator or tiny fleet might make a switch like that, but based upon the reasons I've given above it really doesn't seem like that will ever happen.

However, what could happen is that a driver may decide to take a job where driving a standard is required. You would, in fact, have to learn to shift and then retake the road test for this to happen. That would not be a big deal at all, though. For starters, you already have experience so you know how to drive a rig. Learning to shift when you already know how to handle a rig is not difficult at all. You could hire someone locally to let you learn on their truck in one or two days, then take a quick retest and you're good to go. No big deal.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Owner Operator:

An owner-operator is a driver who either owns or leases the truck they are driving. A self-employed driver.

Cold War Surplus's Comment
member avatar

While it's true that all the major OTR/Regional carriers are going to automatic transmissions, there are millions of older trucks on the road today in other driving jobs and there will be for the foreseeable future. Heck, I still see cabovers on a regular basis - the last cabover sold in the US was the Freightliner Argosy discontinued in '06. Any cabover you see is at least 12 years old! They still sell glider kits for cabovers but that's another discussion. Obviously, these trucks don't turn 600 miles/day they tend to be seasonal industries (agriculture) or jobs that require a truck, but the truck is a smaller part of a bigger job (household movers). Obviously, no business is going to retire a perfectly working, but older truck just to get an automatic transmission.

If you have an automatic restriction on your CDL you'll have fewer job options, but that's like saying you only have 8,000 potential employers instead of 12,000. Either way, it won't take you long to find a job. The only real downside is the taunts from grizzled old drivers that you're not a, "real" truck driver (whatever that is) because you can't drive a stick. I've seen this at truck stops and online. No big deal.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

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