It is not Old School v. New School - CMS

It is inevitable. It happens at every truck show. Someone younger than any of my kids will tell me that they are "old school". I want to lean forward and look them square in the eye and say Young whipper snapper, I've been truckin' since before you were a gleam in your pa's eye." Of course that must be done in an appropriate trucers' drawl. OK- I haven't done it yet, but I have been tempted.

Here is the thing. I believe that old schoold wisdom enhances modern technology. I also believe that modern technology enhances old school wisdom. It is not and never should have been about one versus the other. It is about using your professional skills to work with modern technology. We always want to be as safe, efficient and profitable as we can. The three are linked together. Whenever one falters, the other two are negatively impacted. You are only as strong as your weakest link.

Who has not heard the argument that I will take an experienced professional driver with none of this safety stuff over a rookie with all of it. You know what? I would too. The thing is why settle. Given my choice, I want an experienced professional driver with a truck that has all of the modern safety technology.

Take collision mitigation systems. Now, take an experienced driver. One that learned and is committed to looking out 15 seconds ahead and maintaining a 7 second following distance. When you consistently use this driving method the system rarely engages. You also want to educate the old school driver on how the system works. It will do things that the most experienced driver would not. For instance the trucker is driving down the road at 65 mph on cruise control and a car merges 100 feet in front of the truck at 55 mph. The experience driver will anticipate that the car will continue to accelerate. The system won't. It sees an object that you are eventually going to run over. Easy, before the car gets directly in front tap cancel cruise. Insome cases the driver can simply tap the brake, or even hit the accelerator. In a perfect scenario the driver can simply change lanes.

Look, I get that it can be a hassle. There are also times when it can alert you. Every driver at some point during the day will lose perfect attention. Maybe a tooth hurts, or a cap came loose. One can commit the trucker sin of spilling your coffee. In that split second anything can happen. The system will check up of perhaps create a haptic brake event. Now, this is not slamming on the breaks but tapping the brakes just hard enough to bump you out of cruise control. If you are running down the road at 65 on cruise control it can feel like it is slamming on the brakes. It isn't. 

The system will also give you an audible "ding" along with an yellow warning if you follow to close. Just back off a bit, or change lanes. If it happens a lot you may want to take a look at your driving habits. Driving effeciently is a matter of managing your forward momentum. That as any experienced professional will tell you, is a lot easer with a 7 second following distance. That "ding" comes at about 3 seconds.

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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