Have you seen a recent tractor-trailer cockpit? If you’re like me and it’s been a few years, you might be surprised. Modern tractor-trailers do a lot more than deliver goods; they promote safety, are ergonomically designed, and proactively support safety, maintenance, and repair. The modern truck driver does a lot more than turn the wheel and shift gears. Today’s driver is a specialist. And part of his or her specialty is effectively using 21st century trucking technology. It begins in the tractor-trailer cockpit.

Today’s Tractor-trailer Cockpit

The Dash

I saw a tractor-trailer cockpit from the 1960’s at a car show. The dash had a speedometer, tachometer, odometer, fuel gauge, and temperature gauge. That was it. Today’s  tractor-trailer cockpit has a little more.

What You’d Expect in a Tractor-trailer Cockpit and More

  • Battery gauge, charging status
  • Temperature gauge shares the engine temperature, and there are also transmission, axle, and exhaust (pyrometer) temperature gauges
  • Oil pressure
  • Speedometer, tachometer, odometer, and fuel gauge
  • Turn signal indicator, high beam, and cab lock
  • Oil level, water level, tire air pressure, and fuel filter condition
  • Cruise control, which has replaced throttle on modern trucks
  • Exhaust brake switch: An exhaust brake slows a diesel by closing the exhaust. Unlike gasoline engines diesel engines don’t have an air intake; therefore, the diesel engine isn’t slowed as a gasoline engine is when the throttle is released. The compressed exhaust slows the diesel and is especially effective on steep grades or with large loads.
  • Cold start switch: Unlike gasoline engines diesel engines don’t use a spark to ignite the engine, compressed air is used to start the diesel. Therefore, in cold conditions, an engine heating element might be needed.


There are lane departure indicators, collision avoidance, driver alertness, electronic stability control, and more. Doug Duncan, CEO (retired) of FedEx Freight said, “Since 2002, FedEx has used collision avoidance systems, which warn drivers of excessive closure rates and eliminates rear-end collisions. Lane departure warning signals are now standard on all new equipment. This technology helps indicate when the driver is tired. Stability control technology is designed to prevent rollovers from occurring.”

Electronic Logging Device: ELD’s do a lot more than log miles and minutes they can be used to track maintenance, safety, and routing. ELD’s can do a lot more than Record Information.

If you’d like to read more on this topic try this post, The Benefits of Advanced Electronic Trucking Safety Equipment.

Starship or Tractor-Trailer Cockpit?

The Tractor trailer of today might not be a starship but it does almost as much as the Starship Enterprise did, and it’s all controlled by one person. Driving a truck in the 21st century is a lot more than just driving a truck. You should go see a dashboard for yourself because when you do, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the professionals that deliver our goods. I know I did.

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Photo Credit: nastogadka ID: bb483dcf9a2b4e475e Provider: Pixabay