CASTLEGAR, B.C. — Mountain Transport Institute has added a new dimension to its professional driver training curriculum: automated transmissions. The MTI Automated Transmission Specialty program provides a shorter path to a driving career by eliminating the time spent learning to shift complex non-synchronized transmissions. Andy Roberts, president of MTI, says students will be able to master driving a tractor-trailer much more quickly.
“The Automated Transmission Specialty program allows graduates to be working four weeks sooner than our regular course,” Roberts says. “They are restricted to driving automatics [automated or automatics], but more and more fleets are using those transmissions so it’s a real opportunity for those who can’t attend the full course. Once they have sufficient driving experience on automatics there is a non-synchronized transmission upgrade course available to gain an unrestricted licence if they want.”
The move reflects a shift in fleet requirements for entry-level drivers. Many fleets are now spec’ing automated transmissions on all new trucks, and say those new drivers don’t necessarily need the extra time required to master shifting a non-synchronized gear box.
“The majority of our trucks are equipped with automatic transmissions — as many large fleets are — and we will continue to move in that direction going forward,” says Jim Mickey, co-president of Coastal Pacific Xpress in Cloverdale B.C. “We are always looking for good, motivated drivers and this new program makes it much more affordable for someone looking to get started.”
The Automated Transmission Specialty program still provides students all the necessary training to qualify as an entry-level driver — except for training on manual transmissions. The course includes: 20 hours on airbrakes; 14 hours on trip-inspections; 10 hours on sliding 5th-wheels/trailer axles, and tire chaining,
5 hours on logbooks/HOS; and 47.5 hours minimum driving in the yard/on the road, including 8 night hours.
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