BY JOSEPH KRASSNER
Last Tuesday, 2,000 cases of beer were delivered by truck to Colorado Springs. While this might seem unimpressionable, those cases were delivered by self-driving truck owned by the technology company Otto, which had recently been acquired by Uber. This recent advancement in self-driving technology has put in the question the future of the trucking industry and its current employees. Many have turned a blind eye to truck drivers that are economically dependent on manually controlled trucks for their jobs.
According to CNN, there were 1.6 million Americans truck drivers in 2015. If self-driving vehicles are implemented too quickly into the trucking industry, there could be surge in unemployment among truck-drivers. The requirements necessary to become a truck driver are not very demanding: Truckers must be at least 21, have a commercial truck license, and pass a background test and drug test, making truck driving one of the few jobs that that doesn’t require formal education outside of the training required to obtain the commercial truck license. This easy access allows for truck driving to be a good safety job for people who might not have the money or time to attend higher education, as well for as those who might want a job that pays more. While truck driving seems like a low-end job, in reality, the job provides more benefits than most people expect. For many careers and jobs finding, a balance between work life and and personal life can become challenging-what with issues such as paid medical leave and flexible scheduling. While truck driving is no exception to these issues, the industry faces the more unique problem of recruitment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 49.4% of truck drivers in 2016 were between the ages of 45-64, indicating a rising age population that has resulted in a shortage of truck drivers. These shortages have resulted in competitions among companies to hire truck drivers in a booming economy, effectively raising the average wage.
In truth, truck driving is not an easy job. Most of their time is spent in cabin of truck traveling across the country to deliver goods, sometimes for days at a time. While the job seems unappealing for most people, this lack of appeal has led the industry to develop benefits that would make the job more appealing for younger populations. The creation of the self-driving truck parallels the situation that most jobs face, which is the increasing reliance of new technology. Technological advances always have to be taken into account. However, given the case of self-driving trucks among the trucking industry, there is no guarantee that they will provide more good than harm.