(Guest Post by Ryan Tyson)
Autonomous trucks are no longer just a vision. Level three self-driving trucks have already hit the road. And, level four trucks will follow as soon as 2020. Professional truck drivers feel uneasy about this new technology. Let’s face it, any threat to job security will cause anyone’s stomach to turn.
The sad part is that professional drivers won’t be the only ones affected. We can’t forget about the 7.3 million people like dispatchers working in the trucking industry. So what can truckers do to prepare? Here’s a list of three things truck drivers can do to prepare for driverless trucks to take over the industry.
Develop Additional Skills
Autonomous trucks will alter the nature of the trucking industry. The reality is that many people will gradually lose their jobs. Drivers need to arm themselves by developing additional skill sets. The good news is that many complimentary jobs could emerge from this new technology over time. For example, skill sets that require someone to oversee these trucks and other non-automated duties to support them.
It’s impossible to predict what type of jobs will emerge or skill sets needed, but positions like on-call trucking repair technicians are possible. Some companies have created government-approved unions to oversee extensive retraining programs. It’s important to note that continuing education programs need to match the evolving truck industry needs.
Prepare to Ride Along
Experts predict that a number of drivers are needed to navigate autonomous trucks under conditions like inclement weather. Also, drivers may monitor self-driving trucks from the cab. One of the first signs of a system failure on the road is usually a change in sound. The fact is automation isn’t designed to recognize an issue from a noise.
Also, what about making deliveries to houses or storefronts? Again, automation can’t handle those types of responsibilities. Other responsibilities could include driving trucks to and from drop off points for autonomous long hauls, and manning the wheel during platooning.
Understand the Possible Financial Implications
Depending on your experience, truck driving pays close to middle-class wages and doesn’t require a college education. The median annual wage for heavy and tractor-trailer drivers is $41,340. Experienced truck drivers can earn more than $75,000 a year.
Hundreds of drivers have made trade-offs between jobs where they could barely make ends meet. Many truckers drive thousands of miles a week all over the country making great money. The questions on every truck drivers mind are what will happen financially in the future? Will I lose my job? Will truckers be paid more or less to babysit?
If you haven’t started preparing financially for the future, now is the time to start. Driverless technology will have an immense financial impact on people who work in the trucking industry.
Driver responsibilities are going to transition in the near future. For some, job loss could very well be the outcome. The race to get driverless trucks on the road has already started. The day will come where we won’t see humans behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler.