Driverless trucks: new report maps out global action on driver jobs and legal issues

Automated road freight will save costs, reduce emissions, make roads safer. But the impact on driver jobs requires a managed transition, says study.

Governments must consider ways to manage the transition to driverless trucks in order to avoid potential social disruption from job losses, says a new report published by the International Transport Forum (ITF) with three partner organisations.

Self-driving trucks will help save costs, lower emissions and make roads safer. They could also address the shortage of professional drivers faced by road transport industry, the study says.

But automated trucks could reduce the demand for drivers by 50-70% in the US and Europe by 2030, with up to 4.4 million of the projected 6.4 million professional trucking jobs becoming redundant, according to one scenario.

Even if the rise of driverless trucks dissuades newcomers from trucking, over 2 million drivers in the US and Europe could be directly displaced, according to scenarios examined for the report.

The report makes four recommendations to help manage the transition to driverless road freight:

  • Establish a transition advisory board to advise on labour issues.
  • Consider a temporary permit system to manage the speed of adoption.
  • Set international standards, road rules and vehicle regulations for self-driving trucks.
  • Continue pilot projects with driverless trucks to test vehicles, network technology and communications protocols.

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Source: IRU World’s Road Transport Organisation