US Senators Susan Collins (R-Me.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) have asked the Government Accountability Office to look how autonomous truck technology could have the potential to displace transportation industry workers.
According to CCJ magazine, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee of the broader Senate appropriations committee want GAO to “examine the impact self-driving trucks will have on the two million Americans who currently work as truck drivers and the communities where they live,” according to a press release issued last week.
According to CCJ magazine, Three key questions were identified in a letter to GAO penned by the Senators:
- What is known about the speed at which automated vehicle technology may be adopted by businesses to replace the current fleet of vehicles used to transport goods and deliver services? To what extent is the adoption of this technology expected to affect employment levels in related occupations?
- What is known about differences in the skills and training that will likely be needed by those who operate and maintain vehicles that are automated versus those who operate existing vehicles using a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)?
- How are federally funded employment and training programs, particularly in the regions most likely to be affected by these changes, preparing to assist professional drivers with CDLs whose jobs may be affected and other job seekers who seek training and licensure for the professional driving industry?
While much has been written and stated about the potential for autonomous vehicles on North American highways, most trucking industry insiders are in agreement that mass market penetration of highly automated vehicles with little or no requirement for a human operators are still several decades away – and even then, will likely be limited to niche sectors.