Do New Drivers Have a Chance Against Automation?
For drivers who are already established in the freight industry, talks about driverless vehicles are a near-daily occurrence. Though many are concerned about whether these vehicles will replace current drivers, a better question would consider their impact on the market for new drivers.
Carriers have worked diligently to boost hiring and retention numbers among a sluggish period of dwindling fleets and retiring veterans. With plenty of jobs available in trucking now and analysts predicting this trend will continue, carriers are scrambling to fill positions.
In their desperation, some carriers have considered an option once reserved for science-fiction media. Driverless trucks are somewhat threatening to those employed by the industry now – but do they make it useless for new drivers to even try to get started?
While the trucking industry is moving toward autonomy, truck drivers are still a valuable asset. There are many roadblocks ahead for driverless trucks in terms of the upgraded infrastructure, overhauled safety regulations, and refined technology necessary for them to become mainstream.
Truck drivers, in the present moment, are still a safer long-term investment for carriers. It is quicker and easier to onboard a dozen new drivers than it is to plan for driverless trucks with accuracy in the present. While some may claim this is a bit of an unfair comparison, as driverless technology still needs a few years to develop completely, it does mean that human drivers are a safer bet in the short-term.
As for the long-term effects on the job market, it is undeniable that commercial vehicles will eliminate some jobs. However, carriers are hoping that it will help them deal with the driver shortage more than they’re hoping it will make human labor obsolete.
A trucking company that is able to fill jobs with human drivers now will have a vested interest in keeping them around, and drivers who aspire to enter the industry soon will have plenty of job options. While the job benefits are still not quite at the level some have hoped for, many people still desire to make their living on the roads. Even as automation looms over the freight industry, human drivers are still a welcomed addition to many carriers’ fleets.