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DriverFirst Aims to Design Internationals ‘Drivers Want to Drive’

June 13, 2016, by Tom Berg

Photo by Michael Hicks via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo by Michael Hicks via Wikimedia Commons.

International Truck says it has launched a company-wide initiative, DriverFirst, aimed at giving its customers an edge in attracting and retaining qualified drivers through vehicles designed from the driver’s perspective.

It is a new emphasis on designing and building trucks “that drivers want to drive,” thereby combating the driver shortage, said Denny Mooney, senior vice president, Global Product Development. Owners' opinions remain important, but neither they nor International's engineers, who make many design decisions, drive trucks for a living. 

It’s an extension of the company’s recent “uptime” advertising and marketing campaign.

“Today, for our customers, uptime means more than having trucks that are built to stay on the road,” Mooney said. “Given the industry’s chronic driver shortage, it’s also about having enough drivers to operate those trucks. And for us, that means building trucks that will help our customers attract and retain drivers, by reflecting the driver’s point of view in the way they are designed and the technologies and features they offer. Simply put, we want to build trucks that drivers want to drive.”

Findings will help designers fashion trucks with better visibility and ride quality, he said.

The DriverFirst initiative was inspired by customers’ and drivers’ input for International’s upcoming renewed product line, gathered from driver clinics, fleet feedback and studies of driver trends. Many customers told the company that due to the driver shortage, they are hard pressed to keep all of their trucks operating.

These stories are consistent with quantitative reports from American Trucking Associations and other industry sources that the industry is currently 35,000 to 40,000 drivers short of meeting its needs.

“The key takeaway from our research is that drivers want trucks that are designed to do the job,” Mooney said. “Drivers aren’t looking for something automotive or futuristic for its own sake. They just want something comfortable and functional, with a design that helps them do their job better and more easily.”

Mooney identified four specific areas where International is pursuing ongoing innovations and driver-centric features, based on its research into driver needs:

  • Comfort: Driver comfort is greatly enhanced by factors like ergonomics, interior lighting and color, as well as low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).
  • Safety: Driver safety can be enhanced by multiple factors, ranging from visibility and state-of-the-art headlights to advanced systems that use radar, digital cameras and other technologies to avoid and mitigate accidents.
  • Productivity: Drivers benefit from technologies such as automated manual transmissions, as well as improved vehicle serviceability and ease of maintenance.
  • Efficiency: From improving fuel economy to designing more intuitive displays, drivers are interested in features that will help them get the job done more efficiently.

Though International’s DriverFirst philosophy was only recently formalized, it reflects a long-standing customer focus that has already yielded a number of International innovations in the marketplace, Mooney said.

Some examples include the company’s being first to market with the Bendix Wingman Fusion safety system, which makes drivers’ safety a priority, and International’s own Over-the-Air Programming, which reduces downtime spent in driver maintenance.

“The DriverFirst philosophy has already helped us deliver multiple innovations, and it plays an even more prominent role in the new products that we will be bringing to the market starting this fall,” Mooney said. “We are committed to helping our customers improve the total driver experience, so they can encourage their drivers to stick around for the long haul.”


  1. 1. Russ [ June 15, 2016 @ 08:14PM ]

    Lord knows I have towed enough of them to the repair shop. I remember one time I was called out to recover one, the costumers truck was right at 79,000 pounds and my tow truck was 38,000 so our combined weight was 117,000 pounds. I was pulling a 6% grade at 25 mph and he couldn't believe it. He said his truck would only pull 6% at about 8 mph. It only had 80,000 miles on it. It was a prostar. We have a joke here in idaho that you can't tell if the truck coming at you is a volvo, freightliner,kenworth or a peterbilt. We call them Volfrekenbuilts. I guess you can ad "intertrashinal" to the list. Put me down for a w900, 379 Pete, a 1979 freightliner conventional or an old 4300 transtar eagle, any thing but the new fad trucks with absolutely no character. Hell you can't even get an honest to god chrome bumper on these new wave trucks, it's pathetic, no wonder none of these new drivers now days don't take any pride in themselves or their profession. Companies today don't provide trucks that drivers can be proud to drive.

  2. 2. Bryson Hughes [ July 07, 2016 @ 04:41PM ]

    Ergonomics is a tough subject because there are so many different kinds of people. But it is a pet peeve of mine to get into a truck and see the same thoughtless ergonomic mistakes carried over from older models. I suppose that's why I'm interested in this topic.

    One thing that came to mind is the concept of "average" in drivers, obviously reflected in the ergonomics of some trucks. Especially older trucks where small cab size reflected an era of 5'7" average height men, with 28 inch legs. For me personally, it is hard to get the pedals far enough away. If I manage that, the steering wheel is now too far away. I'm obviously not in the envelope of "average". But the big fact to understand is NOBODY is average. Average is a myth. Vehicles designed with compromises around averages, just mean they are wrong for everyone. People cope, but it is not right for anyone yet.

    The safety of airmen was at stake when the USAF experienced high accident rates. The solution was to abandon the concept of average statures in airmen, and order new planes with fully adjustable controls to suit each unique pilot. The airplane contractors protested, but met the new specifications. As a result, safety improved substantially. Now their airplanes are staying airborne, and pilots appreciated the newer planes. It was ONE change that helped everyone.

    I drive and have driven many different trucks. Experiences have given me a seriously long list of points to bear on ergonomics. Some would seem like no brainer fixes, but the next model year comes with the same problems. I have to laugh, but I wish I could consult with the designers and help them out.

  3. 3. Luis [ July 09, 2016 @ 05:48PM ]

    Your sleepers on the lonestars needs to be a sleeper that is different than any other out there it is a shame that such a beautiful Truck has the same sleeper that a prostate has. As an owner Operator looking to buy a new truck I was considering a lonestar until I saw that I would be better off keeping my prostate or looking at your competitors that offer better sleepers. I wish I could help your designers out in developing the best sleeper for the lonestar.


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