UNITED STATES – As technology increases year after year, so does the promise of self-driving cars and automation technology in the trucking industry. While the technology brings a lot of good, like possibly reducing accidents, regulating the flow of freight, and more… it increases some fears for drivers. How does this technology impact truck drivers? Will drivers be replaced as automation increases?
Luckily for drivers, most higher-ups in the industry don’t think so. While technology is increasing, humans cannot fully be replaced. Moving cargo does not just involve traveling down the road from one place to another. The job has other factors like documenting, refueling, loading and unloading, and much more.
Zeljko Jeftic, part of IRU, the World Road Transport Organisation, discussed this issue. He explained the impact on the industry by saying: “I believe that autonomous vehicles are not going to take away jobs, but would help in their evolution. Companies are looking for hub-to-hub operations via autonomous trucks, but that would still require a driver to jump in at the exit of a motorway, and drive it to the terminal. You could either do it by being physically being present behind the wheel, or through remote-controlled operations. But you still would need to include drivers in the overall operations.”
So, while truck driving jobs may evolve to encompass different elements, it seems that the drivers won’t be replaced. In fact, the evolving industry may help drivers. Since the shortage, companies have been trying to discover ways to better incentivize jobs for drivers.
For example, Walmart recently upped its salary to attract more drivers. Perhaps with automation, the difficult long drives would be less of a struggle for human drivers. As Jeftic also said: “Automation is going to put pressure, and we need to find a nice combination for both driverless and driver-supported hauling.”
Basically, the trucking industry still needs skilled drivers. And, technology will help drivers with some of the duties of the job. Companies should make the technology shift a bit easier by moving toward electronic systems. As Jeftic suggests: “I tell people that to get ready for a highly automated future they should focus on digitizing their transport operations. They need to move away from using paper in planning and load-finding operations, and look to be proactively involved in discussions about automation.”
Essentially – truck drivers, don’t fear being replaced! The industry still has a shortage of drivers. And, the need for drivers is only increasing. Technology will impact the industry’s evolution, but won’t eliminate the need for the skilled workers that made the industry what it is today.