The trucking industry is one of the most lucrative businesses worldwide and helps keep the U.S economy afloat. It’s responsible for transporting 70 percent of goods in the U.S and employs millions of workers. In 2019, trucks transported 11.84 billion tons of freight worth $772 billion. It’s no secret that the industry continues to help our economy thrive, but we may start to see a shift in how the trucking industry operates in the next coming years.
Autonomous vehicles have started making their way onto the roads, and self-driving trucks are expected to take over the industry in the next 10 years. In fact, a survey found that more than half of small business owners think that fleets will be completely autonomous in 20 years, and 35 percent of those respondents believe it’ll be closer to 10 years.
So, what does this mean for truck drivers? The trucking industry has been facing a driver shortage since 2015, and many people in the industry are worried that autonomous vehicles will put drivers out of work. There has been much debate around whether or not autonomous trucks and technology will impact, but analysts agree that they won’t be taking away jobs anytime soon.
Self-driving trucks are going to change the industry because of their fuel efficiency and safety. They’re predicted to decrease the number of trucking accidents on the road because of their smart technology. Most accidents are caused by human error. Though self-driving trucks will still need human supervision, their technology so far has seen minimal errors, decreasing the likelihood of an accident to happen.
One of the significant potentials of self-driving trucks will be truck platooning that enables the vehicles to keep their positions in specific lanes with a fixed distance. The first vehicle’s behavior, such as braking and steering, is transmitted by vehicle-to-vehicle communication, allowing the vehicles to move in perfect sync with each other and join or leave at specified stations in long-distance motorway trips.
Besides, the all-too-familiar time limitations placed on freight trucks can be removed since the truck will be able to travel 24/7 without requiring driver rest time, compared with today’s driving. Here are some of the key benefits and challenges addressed by self-driving trucks in the current trucking industry.
- Reduced driver distraction
- Increased driver comfort and safety
- Optimized driver rest periods
- Fuel efficiency gains from predictive driving
- Eliminating human error
- Better vehicle utilization
- Improved aerodynamics, emission reduction, better mileage, and fuel consumption through reduced inter-vehicle spacing.
To learn more about the future of the trucking industry, check out this visual from JW Surety Bonds that highlights key trucking industry statistics that help paint a picture of what we can expect for the industry’s future.