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Con-Way Sets The Tone For the Future of Truck Fleets

JOPLIN, MO — Con-way announced a massive purchase of 550 new tractors all with 6x4 axles, out of which 540 will be equipped with automated transmissions, in hopes of attracting more young truck drivers.

"We've found that many younger drivers looking to enter the industry prefer the automatic transmissions because it removes the perception that operating a truck is outside of their ability," said Gretchen Jackson, recruiting manager at Con-way Truckload. "Truck driving is an essential role within the economy and, given the current driver shortage, we want to provide career opportunities for those who have an interest but may think the job is unattainable."

The new trucks raise the number of automated trucks in Con-way’s fleet from 50 to 590 in total. Con-way currently employs over 3,000 drivers and has a fleet of more than 2,700 tractors and 8,000 trailers operating throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. 

"Learning to shift a 10 or 13 speed transmission may make some new drivers nervous about starting a career in trucking," said Stephanie Klang, professional driver for Con-way Truckload. "But with the auto shifts in the trucks today, new drivers can feel more comfortable, focus attention on their surroundings and maneuver their truck safety through traffic and congestion. While driving a truck still involves a lot of skill, the automatics make life on the road a little easier."

The decision to purchase 100 percent tandem axle twin-screw tractors was also influenced by driver feedback, the company stated.

"Many of our drivers expressed a preference for the 6x4 tractors as they handle more comfortably," said Randy Cornell, vice president of maintenance with Con-way Truckload. "Driver safety and comfort are essential parts of our company's success, so we regularly look to our drivers for feedback and listen to their input."

Kenworth, Volvo, Navistar and Freightliners were the manufacturers of choice for the new tractors. Initial deliveries began earlier this year and all of the new replacement tractors will be on the road by December of 2014.

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trucking trucks transmissions drivers fleets. con-way

They are trying to hire cheaper drivers that can not shift gears how will they handle snow storms on hills

I firmly agree with Automatics. In many cases traffic is so heavy and busy not having to worry about gears allows you to pay more attention to what's going on around the truck. I can shift but I avoid it like the plague if I can since I simply do not enjoy doing it, especially starting on hills and in heavy stop-and-go traffic.