The older I get the more I find myself in the middle. Maybe, I have lost some of my zeal, or at least some of my energy. Could it be that everyone else has gone nuts? People seem so busy advocating their position that they lose any sense of objectivity. My baseball coach used to say, ”God gave you 2 ears and only one mouth for a reason.”. I wonder what he would say about 8 fingers and the internet.

There is a tug of war in this industry between technology and driver training. Parameters don't make good drivers. Technology alone can't replace experience and a professional attitude. Collision mitigation is not as good as collision avoidance. It frustrates me that people take a one side or the other. Trucking is best when driver and truck work together. Technology does not go backwards. Old dogs like me used to know that it was close to freezing outside when we were freezing inside the truck. We could shift gears by listening to the sound of the engine. Personally, I prefer a warm and quiet truck. Those are brought to you by increased insulation, better engineering, and improved manufacturing technology.

In a perfect world, drivers would not need parameters. I have seen engine reports where it seems that the driver is doing everything possible to make the truck inefficient. That is why companies set the trucks up with strict parameters. I have also seen where drivers can be trained to work with the new technology. That works. Treat the driver with respect and train them how and why the new technology works and you have the best of both worlds.

That brings me to collision mitigation systems. I have had mine for about 150,000 miles. At this point we have learned to work together. Our interactions are rare. A driver who drives professionally will adapt quickly to the system. You never forget that it is there. At some point they will probably be as common as anti lock brakes. A mandate is probably not necessary.

Objectivity on both sides can get sacrificed for advocacy. I will be the first one to stand up and tell anyone who will listen that nothing beats a professional driver. I will also be the first one who will stand up to those who say that they cause accidents. Some comments are that these things slam on the brakes in wintry condition. Mine disables itself in wintry conditions. People complain that it disables the cruise control in wintry conditions. No professional should be using CC in wintry conditions. One driver complained that those things make you really pay attention. Is that a bad thing? In 150,000 miles mine has never gone off for no reason. Yes, it has hit the brakes for things that I would not have. That is why drivers need to be trained on the new technology. We need to know how the new technology works. The safest driver out there is a professional who understands how the new technology works and uses it properly.

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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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