trucks on a crowded highway

The debate between automatic and manual transmission been a hot topic among vehicle enthusiasts for decades. Defenders of stick shift never fail to brag about the superior control and desirability of a manual transmission. Despite their enthusiasm, automatic transmission is the most popular and widespread option available on the market today. For truck drivers who spend weeks on the road at a time, the difference between automatic and manual transmission trucks comes down to safety. In this article, we’ll dive into the topic of manual vs. automatic transmission safety, and determine which option is the best for keeping safe on the road.

What Is The Difference Between Automatic and Manual Transmission?

There are two basic types of transmissions available to a vehicle—manual transmission and automatic transmission. What’s the difference between these two systems?

Manual transmission is a system where the driver operates a gear stick and clutch in order to change gears. In modern cars, manual transmissions typically use five or six gear ratios with one reverse gear. For trucks and other heavy equipment, the number of gear increases to anywhere between eight and twenty-five gears. The history of manual transmission traces back to French inventors Louis-Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor, with their demonstration of three-speed transmission back in 1894.

Automatic transmission is a system where the internal mechanisms of the vehicle automatically change the gear ratio as the vehicle moves. Therefore, the driver does not have to shift the gears manually. The history of the automatic transmission is slightly more recent. The system was first introduced back in 1921 by Alfred Horner Munro.

Which is Safer?

Many people believe that manual transmissions are safer and lead to fewer accidents. The idea behind this is that people are using a clutch and shifter, which forces them to focus on the road. On the other hand, having an extra pedal and gear shift can make it easier for inexperienced drivers to make a mistake behind the wheel, so maybe automatic transmissions are safer. In the end, there is too little data available to conclude whether a manual or automatic vehicle is safer to drive. In the trucking industry, there are some complaints that automatic transmissions do not accelerate fast enough, which could lead to safety issues; however, this requires further investigation. If you have been involved in a trucking accident, try contacting a truck accident lawyer today.

Impact of the Driver Shortage

In the trucking industry, the standard has always been manual transmissions. In recent years, however, the industry has been making a slow and deliberate change to automatic vehicles. Why?

In 2018, the trucking industry was short of roughly 60,800 drivers, an uptick of nearly 20% since 2017. If the current trend continues, this shortage will present major problems for the trucking industry in the coming decades. For this reason, trucking companies are looking again at the automatic and manual transmission question and choosing automatic transmission as a way to bring in more young drivers. Nowadays most young people do not know how to drive a manual transmission and shifting 25 gears in a truck can be tricky, which is why this is seen as a hindrance to younger applicants. Automatic transmissions are not only easier to be trained on, but they shorten the training period required.

While there may not be a quantifiable difference in the safety standards between automatic and manual transmission, the trucking industry is now headed in the direction of automatic transmission. While lovers of the stick shift may not like it, this represents a step in the right direction in terms of increased fuel efficiency, improved driver recruitment, and better rates of driver retention.

We hope you found this blog post on Are Automatic Or Manual Transmission Trucks Safer? useful. Be sure to check out our post on Buying Guide: Different Types of Semi Trucks Explained for more great tips!


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