*Read the breakdown of the newest Tesla Trucks here.
The first thing you think about when it comes to the pilot program of military-trained, under 21 CDL holders to drive across state lines is easing out the driver shortage. But, have a seat and consider the workforce numbers that will grow due to this program.
Starting from the year of 1994 to 2013, the number of the 25-34-year-olds driving interstate was reduced in the nation. And the reason is partly that many older teens interested in a long-haul trucking career choose a different field because they don’t want to wait until they turn 21 when they will be able to run interstate. And nowadays, in this fast-growing trucking industry, that’s not the only problem.
And what about driver-less trucks?
A more recent development showed that in the nearest future fully autonomous trucks will steal driving jobs for humans. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee had a meeting in July where recommendations were provided to the agency about autonomous trucks, existing regulations and more. But, however, is it a better way than a person seating in front of the steering wheel? We don’t know, and no one knows it at this moment.
However, those grappling with the Level 3 and 4 transitions to full autonomy (Level 5) with cars and commercial trucks now see the challenges more clearly. There have been too many accidents with semi-autonomous cars where an inattentive or presumptuous driver gambled too much.
You can be sure for now, it could be easily a decade or two before this kind of vehicle replaces significant numbers of drivers. Meanwhile, the operators of semi-autonomous trucks will need more skills than today’s drivers, not fewer. So, now, training becomes more vital as moving forward.
The trucking industry is in need of the best of the brilliant potential drivers to fill these jobs of tomorrow. Yet the best are the first ones who find a lucrative career outside of driving when they hit a roadblock.
The FMCSA, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, should do what they can to remove such kind of barriers. They must require all the testing and supervised road time necessary to screen out unqualified younger drivers. However, they should move forward with the trials to see if safety results measure up.