Automation is set to make operations safer and more efficient in many industries across America. However, many workers fear that automation may end up costing them their jobs. Their fears aren’t entirely unfounded as the goal of automation is to replace labor with computerized systems that are easier to manage and are less error-prone.
However, truck drivers may be more immune to the effects of automation than their counterparts in other industries. Here are some reasons why truck drivers shouldn’t fear automation.
1. Truckers perform many non-driving duties
Automation in the trucking industry will likely appear in the form of self-driving vehicles. These vehicles will be able to stay on route with deliveries and avoid accidents without requiring the constant supervision of a driver.
Why Truck Drivers Shouldn’t Fear Automation
However, truck drivers perform many duties that extend beyond simply driving. Drivers for oversize shipping companies are usually involved with loading and unloading their freight. They are also required to perform pre-driving inspections of their vehicles on a regular basis.
Trucks in the future may possess sensors that help them detect any components that need servicing. However, truckers will still need to be present to actually perform these repairs and tune-ups.
In addition to the aforementioned duties, truck drivers are also required to meet with clients at their delivery locations. These in-person meetings are used to discuss the freight, oversee unloading procedures, and fill out delivery paperwork.
These are important functions that can’t be automated. So truck drivers will always be needed for oversized shipping services.
2. Fully automated trucks aren’t going to be available for a while
The few self-driving vehicles that are being tested in 2020 still require the supervision of a human driver. These vehicles may possess some self-driving capabilities, but they are too dangerous to operate in the absence of a driver.
In addition to this, oversized freight has to be monitored constantly during shipping. This supervision is required to ensure that the cargo is safe during transport, and that it isn’t endangering other cars or pedestrians on the road.
Truckers that are transporting oversized loads often have to make skilled maneuvers when they are changing lanes or making a sharp turn. These maneuvers require great driving skills and careful supervision, so automated trucks won’t be able to perform them off safely and swiftly without the help of actual drivers.
3. Automation is more likely to assist drivers than replace them
As mentioned in the earlier points, automated trucks will still need human drivers to help with special tasks such as monitoring and performing maneuvers. In addition to this, the Department of Transportation isn’t likely to approve the use of fully self-driving trucks any time soon due to the public safety hazard they pose.
Automated trucks in the future will be able to perform some of the driver’s duties, and they may actually make the truck driver’s life a bit easier. So truckers should view automation as a welcome change that improves their job quality and allows them to focus on other duties.