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Starting Sunday, Jon Osburn and OOIDA’s Tour Truck, the Spirit of the American Trucker, will be at the Evan ‘Buddy’ Haston Petro in Amarillo, Texas. That’s located at Exit 75 off Interstate 40. Stop in, say hi to Jon, and join OOIDA for a $10 discount. See the full Spirit Schedule. Air date: Nov. 17, 2017.

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Remembering when manufacturers put the driver first

Few things matter to truckers quite as much as their seats.

It’s not as much of an issue these days. For years now, advanced seat technology has made them far more comfortable and better for backs.

But back in the day, as one trucker once said, seats were little better than “leather stretched over a peach crate,” and with the shaking common in those older trucks, the backs of many a driver were in very bad shape.

Murry Syfert isn’t quite old enough to remember the truly bad seats. But truckers his age have seen a lot of changes. And the OOIDA life member of Coweta, Okla., values having a good place to drive from.

Specifically, four years ago, Murry bought one of the new Bose seats.

If the name Bose is familiar, then you’re probably an audiophile. In fact, it is the same company renowned for producing some of the best speakers in the business.

Their truck seat uses the famed audio company’s noise-cancellation technology to attack and counteract the vibrations in a truck, so the driver has an incredibly smooth ride.

Syfert, who does heavy haul, says he’s “very pleased” with the seat and also pleased with the company, including the service they provided.

“Any problems I’ve had, they’ve been willing to take care of it no charge,” Murray added.

The Bose system came out several years ago, and it was part of a wave of driver comfort improvements that sprang up around the same time.

Over the space of a few years, we had seen massive improvements in sleeper berths; better seats; APU systems to provide the same climate control and comfort key off that you have key on; shore power expanding its reach; and even better suspensions designed to make the ride easier for the driver.

The trend was encouraging, because it recognized the special place the driver should have – and so often isn’t credited for – in trucking.

This past year, I saw far less of that.

Suddenly, everyone isn’t talking about cab comfort. Instead, the talk is mostly about automation – a system ultimately designed to eliminate the driver. Not right away, mind you, but in the end that is the goal.

I heard a lot more talk about what fleets need, and less about what drivers need. As I heard more and more of that talk, I began to feel that something was lost.

In a day when everyone seems against the truck drivers, it’s nice to know that someone, or some company, puts them first.

I remember the demonstrations of the Bose seats at the Mid-America Trucking Show, which they offered over several years. Our own Reed Black sat on a Bose seat while they put it on a giant vibrating platform. He hardly moved at all.

I remember walking into sleepers so large that they really qualified as an RV – complete with shower and working toilet, and a real, adult-size bed.

I hope that what I observed this past year was an aberration, a one-year phenomenon that will pass, giving way to new innovations benefiting the drivers.

I’m not holding my breath, but you can hope. Because the Murry Syferts of the world – the people moving everything our country needs – deserve all the comfort they can get.

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