Daily, the roads across the nation are filled with tractor trailers, as goods, such as slush puppie for example, are transported to any number of facilities and retail locations. In fact, almost three-fourths of the goods used in the US annually are transported via truck. More than 3.5 million truck drivers are employed by 1.2 million trucking companies in the United States, according to TruckInfo.net.
With increasing improvements to technology, starting with the fact tractor trailers are now available with automatic transmissions, something that was unheard of only a couple of decades ago, it is not impossible that someday in our future, tractor trailers will deliver goods without a driver to sign the paperwork.
Driverless Trucks Will Do More than Leave Truckers Unemployed
Those who see this technology occurring sooner rather than later are concerned about the potential impact on smaller town economies. The trickledown effect of losing the business of the aforementioned 3.5 million truck drivers, who have to stop to eat, drink and sleep along the way, means the loss of jobs for millions of other individuals and the slow but steady domino effect of failing business. Of the lower 48 states, over half of those states have the primary employment listed as truck driver. That means a significant issue when that particular career path is eliminated.
Also, it is important to remember that truckers are the final faction of a manufacturing sector, earning middle class incomes based on a job that requires training and skill. Most of the other jobs that previously kept that class alive have been moved out of the US. The loss of this group of employers as well will be highly detrimental to the US economy.
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Still a Long Ways Off, or Is It?
Some believe this process will be long, complex and involve a lot of installation of new technology. That means money that trucking companies will probably be hesitant to spend until others have the technology well-established and the bugs all worked out. Still, it is a daunting prospect to consider, since the effects on the economy will be widespread.
However, officials for one of the nation’s biggest shipping lanes are already looking ahead to this potential future. The Ohio Turnpike Commission Director Randy Cole shared his personal belief that big shippers like FedEx may be the first to implement driverless trucks. Cole noted the technology will quickly spread beyond personal vehicles into the commercial freight venue. He shared this opinion with the Nordonia Chamber of Commerce recently.…Read More »