Last week a self-driving truck delivered a little over 50,000 Budweiser beers over a distance of 120 miles. This was widely cheered as an accomplishment, but truck driving is one of the most common jobs in America for men and autonomous trucks would no doubt replace workers.
An NPR study found that in 2014 that driving trucks was the most common job in 29 states. The American Trucking Associations (ATA), which represents the industry, has said there are over 3 million professional truck drivers in the country. A 2015 study from the ATA also found that 94.2 percent of truck drivers are men, so shouldn’t millions of men be worried about the rise of autonomous trucks?
The Daily Caller reached out to the Teamsters Union, which represents tens of thousands of freight and package drivers including those at Budweiser, to see what their response is to the rise of self-driving trucks.
Kara Deniz, press secretary for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, told TheDC, “We believe that skilled, experienced drivers are needed and critical to safe operations.”
TheDC also reached out the ATA. A spokesman echoed Deniz and said, “We have consistently said, and continue to believe, that the future of our industry will depend on professional drivers to continue moving America’s goods.”
Otto, the Uber-owned company that developed the self-driving truck which delivered the beers, maintains that it wants to keep humans in the truck’s cab. One of Otto’s co-founders Lior Ron told Backchannel, “We want to get the technology to the point where it’s safe to let the driver rest and sleep in his cabin and we can drive for him, exit to exit.”
Ron added that their technology will only be for highways. But at the same time, Otto’s parent company Uber has already launched self-driving cars in cities, so its hard to believe that self-driving truck technology won’t eventually take the human out of the truck.
TheDC asked the Teamster’s press secretary about truckers losing their jobs because of this technology and she said, “We can’t really speculate on something of that basis.” Deniz also told TheDC, “taking drivers out of the cab shouldn’t be the topic of conversation.”
Instead, Deniz said the Teamsters union focus is currently on the impact of self-driving trucks on infrastructure, safety concerns in general and cybersecurity specifically.