Can Increasing Hiring Efforts Hold Off the Switch to Automation?
There have been multiple news stories this year about driverless commercial vehicles making their way to the road soon. With testing recently occurring in Michigan and mergers between companies like Uber and Otto making headlines, it’s clear that automation is quickly becoming a reality. But what is the main reason for this change?
Historically, truck drivers have always played an important role in the economy. But in recent years, the line of work isn’t as popular as it once was. Though truck driving is still the most popular occupation in most US states, there are plenty of positions out there to be filled.
Less lucrative conditions have driven some people into other lines of work, while many veteran drivers who entered the industry at a high point are nearing retirement. The switch to automation is often seen as a solution to getting around the expenses and liability associated with human drivers. However, this may not be the case.
Though autonomous vehicles do offer a number of advantages, many carriers are still more comfortable with the idea of human drivers. Based on recent reports by the ATA, trucking is expected to show small but consistent improvements over the next several years. This could mean that driverless trucks are appearing due to a shortage of drivers, rather than carriers looking to phase drivers out.
There is no question that automation will have a big impact on the trucking industry. Namely, the infrastructure and traffic law alterations which will be made to accommodate these vehicles may also affect drivers.
An increase in human drivers may lead carriers to think twice about investing heavily in autonomous vehicles, at least for the present. Drivers still play a key role in the industry, now it’s up to carriers to provide the opportunities that job seekers look for.