If you’re in the logistics industry, then you are all too familiar with the shortage of truck drivers. Already, there have been reports of us currently being short by about 60,000 drivers with that shortage possibly tripling by 2026. With automation just around the corner, there are now new studies suggesting maybe the threat isn’t so serious?
“Drivers do a lot of jobs other than drive and those still need to get done, and those really are the trickiest things to automate,” states Kristen Monaco, co-author of the study titled Trucking Driving Jobs: Are They Headed for Rapid Elimination? Monaco also blames the media for hyping drivers’ fears.
The study is worth the read and debunks a lot of myths regarding the driver shortage. In it, Kristen Monaco and Maury Gittleman covers:
- How the numbers are inflated due to the misunderstanding of the occupational classification system used in federal statistics.
In the study, it discusses how light truck delivery trucks are included in “trucking jobs”. They also note how the estimates uses the total number of CDL holders even though many of the people who hold the appropriate license no longer drive at all.
- How truck drivers are responsible for non-driving tasks that will continue to be in demand as they are incredibly difficult to automate.
These tasks include pre-check inspections and other safety compliances, operating non-truck equipment like forklifts, tarping, fueling, customer service, paperwork, loading, and unloading.
- How, if any job is in jeopardy with the advancement of technology and automation, it would be long-haul trucking which is roughly only one-quarter of trucking jobs.
“Our case study of truck drivers suggests, however, that, at least for now, any loss of jobs as a result of automation will be more limited, especially compared with journalistic accounts but also as anticipated by a number of experts.”– Kristen Monaco
As discussed in previous blog posts, fear that new technology will lead to massive unemployment is not new. This study suggests that truck automation will be comparable to the first introduction of automated teller machines (ATMs). While it first decreased the number of employees required per bank branch, the increase in productivity made it less expensive for a bank to open a branch. In the end, it created more jobs and reshaped the teller position as part of customer service. So instead of anticipating the end of truck driving jobs, automation may reshape the position to something new and useful.
To read the whole study by Maury Gittleman and Kristen Monaco, click here.