Trucking's stick-and-rudder problem

Jim Park, writing at, puts his latest CDL renewal into perspective. In the face of irrelevant test questions and the eroding everyday need for "soft" skills like downhill braking, traffic and speed management, traction management in slippery conditions, and fuel efficient driving techniques, are we encouraging driver knowledge and skill to atrophy?

Sure, automation makes it easier bring entry-level drivers up to a point where they can handle most of what the world will toss at them today, but where will they be if they had to think for themselves? 

He wonders whether truck drivers are going the way of the commercial pilot:

The question being asked in commercial aviation circles today is whether today's pilots are real aviators or just systems management people with a couple of stripes on their shoulder. ... 

There's talk in aviation circles now about requiring pilots to make a certain number of manual landings and take-offs each month just so they will maintain their basic stick-and-rudder flying skills.

With trucking on the verge of a similar wave of automation—we're told it's about enhancing safety but we can't ignore the fact that it's simply cheaper to not to so extensively train new drivers—I'd urge caution in allowing those basic driving skills to atrophy.

This is a great read—well worth your while.