New driverless truck report published

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 two 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; and continue pilot projects with driverless trucks to test vehicles, network technology and communications protocols.

The recommendations were agreed jointly by organisations representing truck manufacturers, truck operators and transport workers’ unions, under the auspices of an intergovernmental organisation.

José Viegas, secretary-general of the International Transport Forum (ITF) said, ‘Driverless trucks could be a regular presence on many roads within the next 10 years. Self driving trucks already operate in controlled environments like ports or mines. Trials on public roads are under way in many regions including the United States and the European Union. Manufacturers are investing heavily into automation, and many governments are actively reviewing their regulations. Preparing now for potential negative social impact of job losses will mitigate the risks in case a rapid transition occurs.’