Next time you ask if I’ve driven before, I can at least say “yes” before the qualifiers (well, “at 40 mph, if that,” “with an automatic transmission,” “no trailer on”) begin. A visit to Schneider National headquarters in Green Bay, Wis., to bear witness to the truckload carrier’s 75th Anniversary celebration June 10 yielded unexpected delights, let’s say.
First, though, I got to try out one of the company’s simulators. At the the Schneider Driver Training Center, company safety VP Don Osterberg and driver-trainer Dale French showed myself and several others on hand for the event, including ATA president and former Kansas gov. Bill Graves (pictured, right, with Osterberg), the state-of-the-art simulators the company uses to test new-driver reaction skills. Graves, the first to jump behind the simulator’s wheel, got on the brakes hard when the simulator’s pilots blew his right steer tire — a common error, as any longtime driver will tell you.
I didn’t get near that hardcore treatment on the simulator, the only full-cab simulator at the training center (pictured), complete with motion simulation. Though, of course, I made some typical errors of my own — as you’ll see in the video that follows, in my rural-road situation, I drifted off the road to the right as cars approached in the oncoming lane. As the simulator’s Freightliner cab (pictured) rocked with the drift, I took the movement for heavy crosswinds — Nope, said French. Typical new-driver error.
The actual driving that followed was something of an easy way out for my virgin Class 8 experience, too, considering that the Freightliner Century I piloted was outfitted with an Eaton UltraShift automatic and we didn’t have a trailer on (makes slaloming through those barriers, as you’ll see in the vid, quite simple). In any case, I thought I’d share to prove to you all that, at least, I’ve felt the diesel power firsthand, from the driver’s seat rather than the passenger’s. Enjoy.
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Affected tractors are equipped with an automated Eaton UltraShift Plus or Eaton Advantage Transmission with right hand stalk shifter. In the affected trucks, the display on the instrument panel can indicate “N” when the shifter is set into “D” or “R,” causing the truck not to move.