How changing the image of truck drivers could help preserve trucking as a career for future generations.
Autonomous trucks could become a valuable tool and part of the skillful world of trucking.
However, currently, the American Truck Driver has an image problem with our youth. Truckers are seen as steering wheel holders with no skills who ended up driving a truck because they could not do anything else. Anyone involved in the trucking industry knows that is not true. The truth is that trucking is a difficult job. It requires skill and hard work. For many Americans, it is a rewarding career. That message needs to be passed on to the younger generation.
There are many reasons why autonomous trucks will take much longer than people expected to become fully and legally operational. Government oversight, the size of the industry, the cost of autonomous research are just a few reasons as to why current truckers do not need to worry right now. It will be a tough task, but it will happen.
The next generation of truckers might be the gatekeepers for remaining gainfully employed while operating autonomous trucks.
Although autonomous trucks may not be commonplace for 20-30 years, they will have a spot in the trucking industry one day. We need young, hungry, and tech-savvy individuals to assist in autonomous driving and to take control during the “last mile” portion of deliveries. Truck drivers may very well have to be proficient in technical, computer diagnostics as well as driving and operating the truck.
The trucking industry needs to embrace the idea of autonomous trucks as positive.
When autonomous trucks arrive, the drivers will have to understand all the features of the truck. The driver will have to take control at a moment’s notice when inclement weather or serious traffic situations arise. The position will still require a skill. Yes, maybe a different type of skill than being able to float gears like a pro and knowing when to make that ‘Jake Brake’ hum, but skill, nonetheless.
The point of this piece is not to create fear-mongering around autonomous trucks. It is to encourage the trucking industry to be adaptable to change. It is time that the next generation of truck drivers know this is a great career. If the trucking industry can maintain the right image and appeal to the youth, the potential for successful trucking careers during a period of automation is high. Let’s work together as drivers and show the next generation what it means to be a skillful trucker. When the time for autonomous trucks truly arrives, the American Trucker will be ready!
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