With the innovation of driverless vehicles there has been a lot of talk about automation taking over the trucking industry. Many believe that the trend towards driverless trucks will wipe out all trucking jobs soon.
That would be a lot of jobs lost considering trucking is the most common occupation in 29 states. There are more truck drivers than any other job title in more than half of the United States.
That makes sense though considering around 80% of all goods in the U.S. are transported by trucks.
How long until driverless trucks take over and everyone loses their jobs?
1.5 million jobs could be lost by 2027, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. That’s with the belief that 85% of all transport trucks will be automated by then.
Uber predicts that around 500,000 to 1.5 million self-driving trucks will be on the road by 2028. Don’t worry though, just because driverless trucks are taking over it doesn’t mean all jobs will be lost.
For trucks delivering to complex urban and industrial areas there will still need to be a human in the truck to ensure the delivery goes smoothly. It is likely that a human will take over in the last stretch of the delivery to make sure nothing goes wrong. Shipping supplies can still get damaged if the vehicle hits a bump in the road or gets into an accident with an erratic driver.
As a positive move for truck drivers, Uber has also recently launched Uber Freight which allows truck drivers and shippers to coordinate and make shipments. Carriers use the app to coordinate with shippers, who post a shipment they require, and carriers decide if they want to accept the shipment based on the pay, size of shipment, and delivery location.
This will disrupt the way the trucking industry is operating, giving drivers greater freedom, faster payments, and potentially better wages. Humans still have the advantage of being able to think and make decisions better than computers (at least in some areas) so there will always be some demand for truckers in the industry.
Also, if autonomous trucks are used properly and they end up lowering the cost of freight then it should help bring in more shipments because of increased demand, which means more trucking jobs.
Tesla is launching a semi in 2019 that will run on sunlight, have exceptional acceleration (0-60mph in 20 seconds), be extremely aerodynamic, and have a range of up to 500 miles. It also comes equipped with ‘Enhanced Autopilot’, which uses the self-driving technology of current Tesla vehicles.
There will still be a driver required for the Tesla Semi even with its autopilot feature on so they can take action if anything goes wrong, according to Tesla.
This is good news for truckers, because automation isn’t fully taking over the way many think it will. A human element is still important for many autonomous jobs to ensure nothing goes wrong. Computers aren’t perfect.
Although that might change as autonomous vehicle technology advances, we won’t see such a huge job loss in the trucking sector like many people expect over the next 10 years.
For now, the biggest worry is the need for more truck drivers. A huge driver shortage and poor turnover rate means we shouldn’t be so worried about truckers losing their jobs in their future.
Trucking companies are competing to try to get more drivers. Some trucking companies have a turnover rate of only 5% while some large carriers have turnover rates of over 100%!
Considering the average age of a commercial truck driver in the U.S. is 55 years old that means that in 10-20 years there will be a huge shortage as many go into retirement or die from health related reasons.
So don’t worry about truckers losing their jobs. There is going is a large demand for truckers now and there will continue to be in the future.
Autonomous trucks won’t take over the industry for a long time – for now they will just make jobs a lot easier for drivers.