Con-way Truckload has purchased 550 new Kenworth, Volvo, Freightliner and Navistar tractors, most of which will be equipped with automated transmissions and all with 6x4 axles.

This purchase represents a significant increase of automated transmission trucks in Con-way Truckload's fleet, considering it previously only included 50 automated transmissions in total, according to the company.

Included in this purchase are the Eaton UltraShift, the Volvo I-Shift and the Detroit DT12 automated transmissions.

Con-way officials said the decision was “steered in part by more and more driver requests for automatics, along with the company's desire to lower the barrier of entry into a driving career.”

Initial deliveries began earlier this year and all of the new replacement tractors will be on the road by December of 2014.

"We've found that many younger drivers looking to enter the industry prefer the automatic transmissions because it removes the perception that operating a truck is outside of their ability," said Gretchen Jackson, recruiting manager at Con-way Truckload. "Given the current driver shortage, we want to provide career opportunities for those who have an interest but may think the job is unattainable."

Also a result of driver input, according to Con-way, was the decision to purchase 100% tandem axle twin-screw tractors.

"Many of our drivers expressed a preference for the 6x4 tractors as they handle more comfortably." said Randy Cornell, vice president of maintenance with Con-way Truckload.