Greatest Advancements In Trucking

Topic 33673 | Page 1

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BK's Comment
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What do you think are the 4 or 5 greatest advancements/developments in trucking over the past 30 years? Are they mechanical? Is it technology? Safety?

I got thinking about this and I find it hard to come up with a list, so I thought it might be interesting to see what you others think.

Old School's Comment
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Gone are the days where you had to find a truck stop so you could call your dispatcher on a pay phone, hoping and praying they were available.

Not that long ago Truckers had to physically ship their completed BOLs to their employer in hopes of getting paid for their work. Now we simply click a few buttons on our hand held communication device.

Life is good!


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Davy A.'s Comment
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Plus one on the communication. The evolution of trucks too. AC, bluetooth connectivity, comfort, and the milage they get.

Downside would be the left wing environazis forcing DEF on us, idle prohibition, the general wussification of the trucks with emissions controls. Speed limiters and other left favored gems.

Harvey C.'s Comment
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Is driver comfort greatly improved over say 30-40 years ago? I know a few long-time truck drivers with bad backs who blame bad seats, etc. for their problems.

RealDiehl's Comment
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GPS. I would be lost (literally) without it. Real time traffic and weather reports via smart phone are also very helpful.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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I have an interesting perspective on this since I started driving in '93 before cell phones, the internet, or GPS.

What I find interesting is how little innovation there has been in trucking, specifically truck safety. Back in the day, we had basically the same lane and object detection systems you have today. How do I know? Because you guys have the same problems today that we had 25 years ago; they don't work very well.

The number of false positives and incidents of "slamming on the brakes" is very high today, as it always has been. The systems still seem rather primitive.

Then you have basics like heated windshield wipers. How is that not standard on every truck at this point? It's incredibly dangerous to have ice building up on wipers.

How about cameras that show you what's behind the trailer? To be clear, this would help with backing and with everyday driving.

Do trucks still hit low bridges? Yes, regularly. How is this still a thing? We (supposedly) put men on the moon in '69, but we can't figure out a way to detect a low bridge ahead that the truck won't clear? Yes, signs should be enough, but they're not.

Night vision: non-existent. How about something that can help us see at night? Anything? Yes, they've reduced glare somewhat, but much more needs to be done.

So, while there have been many technological advances that have helped truck drivers, very few of them are trucking-specific, and almost none of them are safety-related.

Also regarding safety trends, the reduced use of CB radios today almost certainly makes roadways less safe. Case in point: look at all of the huge pileups we've had in low-visibility conditions in recent years. Back in the day, almost every truck had a CB, and you wouldn't see 20 or 30 big rigs plowing into stopped traffic at full speed like you see today.

At some (unknowable) point in the future, AI will help with things like object detection. But for all of the technological advances in recent decades, the list of improvements directly related to trucking safety is rather short and unimpressive.

GPS and cell phones had the biggest impact on our lives on the road. If I had to choose only one, I would choose GPS. Fortunately, we don't have to make that choice.


Operating While Intoxicated


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

BK's Comment
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I also had cell phone technology as number one or two. Computer use in the trucking world is related but separate at the same time. The APU for driver comfort would have to be listed. Compact refrigerators, cameras and increased aerodynamics might be on the list. And of course, the auto-mated shifting transmission system.


Auxiliary Power Unit

On tractor trailers, and APU is a small diesel engine that powers a heat and air conditioning unit while charging the truck's main batteries at the same time. This allows the driver to remain comfortable in the cab and have access to electric power without running the main truck engine.

Having an APU helps save money in fuel costs and saves wear and tear on the main engine, though they tend to be expensive to install and maintain. Therefore only a very small percentage of the trucks on the road today come equipped with an APU.

Brett Aquila's Comment
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And of course, the auto-mated shifting transmission system

I had forgotten about that. Auto transmissions took an incredibly long time to become reliable and economical. That was a huge development. I'll bet they worked on them for over 20 years before they really started becoming mainstream.

What I find interesting is how little the job has changed over the years. Trucking is still trucking. Technological advancements certainly made life easier for drivers, but certainly not easy. In many professions, the old timers might say, "You young whippersnappers have it easy!" but I wouldn't say that about trucking. It's incredibly rewarding and satisfying for the right person because it's hard work, but it's righteous.

By the way, in case anyone worries, "Wow, with AI being released now, I wonder if self-driving trucks will soon become a thing?"

Nope. Not soon, anyhow. This stays in the "someday" category. AI has been released publicly, at least a very scaled-back and highly restricted version of it, but AI is not new. They've been using AI to develop self-driving vehicles all along. It's still in the phase where it works great most of the time but regularly makes catastrophic and unacceptable mistakes. You guys know how primitive the safety features are in trucks. Well, there is no "magic pill" software they can drop into a truck, and suddenly it becomes a driving God.

Wile E.'s Comment
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My driving days were from 1978 to 1983. Max overall length was 55', trailers 45'. I would have to say communications have been a huge step forward. We had to ask to use a phone at receivers if there was an issue, or try to find a pay phone if on the road. I remember breaking down on I-26 between Columbia SC and my plant in Laurens SC, and flagging down a highway patrol officer on the CB. He gave me a ride back to the truck stop in Columbia, where I called the plant, and I hitched a ride back to the plant with another driver.

Does anyone do paper logs anymore? I still have my last log book from 1983.

Is driver comfort greatly improved over say 30-40 years ago? I know a few long-time truck drivers with bad backs who blame bad seats, etc. for their problems.

Driver comfort has come a LONG way. My first truck was a sidewinder Mack with a hydraulic shock under the seat, that didn't do much. That thing would almost shake fillings in your teeth loose! rofl-3.gif

The company upgraded to International short nose conventionals in 1980. Those things had air ride seats. Thought I had gone to heaven, almost! I could release the oscillator and just let the seat float. No more back slap! We didn't have sleepers, but those that did either drove a cab-over, or crawled through the space where the rear window used to be on a conventional, into a box with a bed behind the cab. I remember when the first "walk-in" sleepers came out.

We carried a cooler with ice if we wanted to keep a cold drink or sandwich meats on hand.

No such thing as GPS. You studied a map, talked to other drivers in your fleet, or used the CB.

Lots of other memories, but that's enough for now.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


Driving While Intoxicated


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

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