Truck driving is accompanied by a particular set of stereotypes, and one of the most common of those is that to be a real truck driver, you have to drive a manual transmission. Like most stereotypes, though, even if there is some truth involved, it’s not all black and white. Being a truck driver who drives an automatic transmission may mean that you don’t fit someone’s idea of a tough guy trucker persona, but there are still plenty of opportunities for you.
Being limited to automatic trucks on your CDL does place limitations on what jobs you can take, but it’s certainly not the end of the world. More than ever, automatic transmission trucks are becoming increasingly prevalent. Today’s automatic trucks are efficient and durable and aren’t all that different from manual trucks. They also have good fuel economy, meaning they’re not going to disappear for the foreseeable future since every dollar counts.
Focusing on driving an automatic versus manual transmission often means overlooking the other important skills used in truck driving: using mirrors and having spacial awareness, taking tight turns as required, parking your truck, and countless others. Beyond that, there’s so much more to being a truck driver than just the mechanics of raw driving skills. Managing time and stress and being able to make good decisions when under tight deadlines while staying focused is all such a big part of what it takes to be a successful driver, and those aren’t even things you need to acquire a CDL, regardless of whether you have an automatic restriction CDL or not.
What it all comes down to is that there’s a lot more to learn about truck driving than making sure you’ve mastered handling a manual transmission in your vehicle. It’s okay to drive an automatic as long as you have the essential skills. Competency is more about ability than image, and an automatic transmission is comparable to a manual one.