Autonomous Trucking to Reduce Driver Wages

Source:  Canva

Source: Canva

Our society is currently in a footrace against father time when it comes to threats to the sustainability of our environment and US job market While we all wish that our country and the planet were an endless supply of natural resources, completely green (energy), and an abundant job market for generations to come.

It just so happens that amidst these topics (which have been receiving a lot more coverage from our political leaders due to the upcoming election) our truckers and the trucking industry as a whole have been a focal point in the conversations.

Self-driving cars are the natural extension of active safety and something we should do.
— Elon Musk

UC Berkley has stated that, “as many as 294,000 long haul drivers are susceptible to replacement”. It just so happens that these jobs are some of the top in the industry. More jobs will be created than lost in this effort, however, the jobs will likely be final-mile. These contractors are typically classified as independent contractors. As such, they will be subject to cheaper labor and no benefits, retirement, or insurance as compared to those truckers who have been unionized.

Technology Transformation

This technological transformation will largely be molded by public policy to ensure whether or not automation either makes the trucking profession better or worse. Keep in mind, trucking is one of the most common skilled/labor jobs in the United States, accounting for nearly 37% of future growth from now until 2028. If automation is left unregulated entirely, the truckers may likely be faced with the reality of unlivable wages and a skill set that is hardly transferable into another profession.

Source:  Gorilla Safety Fleet Management

Source: Gorilla Safety Fleet Management

The ideal solution is to cultivate an outcome where the trucking industry would receive policies that benefited both the workers and companies. This collaboration will accomplish yielding an The staff writers at truckinginfo came up with the three pillars:

  1. Worker stability and pathway to advancement

  2. Strong labor standards and worker protections

  3. Invest to achieve social, economic, and environmental goals

The Tesla electric semi could change the trucking industry the same way the iPhone changed the cell phone industry.
— Dave Waters

Trucking tends to be an attractive career for some middle-class workers due to the pay being comparable to that of a recent college graduate with a business degree from a state school entering the workforce. Not a bad thing if school isn’t your cup of tea.

You should be aware, however, that not all driving jobs are equal. Some driving jobs are compensated much greater than others. Whether you yourself are directly impacted by driver wages or you are just have a genuine interest in the matter, here is what you need to know:

Source:  UC Berkley Labor Center

Source: UC Berkley Labor Center

Truck Driver Shortage

The media has demonstrated that there is grave concern for a truck driver shortage in the current economy. Most truck drivers are in their fifties so in the event that autonomous trucking does become a reality in their career span, they’ll have already entered into retirement. This shift in transportation is actually a good thing when it comes to cost-effectiveness for shippers and emissions reduction from the improved fuel economy built into the trucks.

The concern is that the autonomous system is that it mostly impacts jobs that are long distance standard equipment hauling less-than-truckload. The reason that these particular jobs are concerning to first encounter replacement is because they are among the highest paying jobs for truckers. More so than long distance truckload and local delivery driver jobs.

Trucking Automation

With trucks running essentially 24/7, shipping will operate in a new realm of efficiency. Of course, this isn’t just happening in trucking. Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be automated away by artificial intelligence technology over the next decade.

Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, the automation of trucking will create more jobs then it destroys, according to Business Insider. With the majority of truckers aging out of the industry, physical trucking jobs will be replaced by communications, technology, and technician jobs to work synchronously with the autonomous vehicles.

What’s Next?

Robots are on pace to replace 800 million workers globally by 2030, according to McKinsey & Company. It will still be some time before we see the complete and total immersion of automated trucking/transportation. This is because the safety statistics may only be met if there are no human drivers left out on the roads. The potential for accidents is more likely to be the fault of human error out on the road than the fault of an autonomous vehicle.

This won’t stop it from happening. Rest assured, it will be an integral part of the future of transportation as we know it.