Bookmark and Share

The Driver Shortage and How Upcoming Semi-Truck Technology Can Help

The growing transportation industry is hungry for drivers, while truck drivers are hungry for more time at home, shorter driving shifts, and increased pay. Although many drivers and leaders in the industry are doubtful of the ability of the upcoming self-driving trucks, the new self-driving truck technology will satisfy both the needs of the industry and the needs of individual drivers.


The Heavy Truck Driver Shortage


A study conducted by the American Trucking Association revealed that the industry was short nearly 40,000 drivers in 2014, and that number has only grown since.


The shortage is mainly due to the fact that many drivers are either leaving or retiring. Another large factor in the driver shortage are rules regarding young drivers. Young competent drivers fresh out of high school are drawn to the traveling lifestyle of drivers in the trucking industry, but are turned away because of laws that prevent them from crossing state lines.


Leaders in the industry are trying to address these two main issues causing the shortage, and although many are doubtful of new self-driving semi-truck technology, it has the potential to be the most effective solution.


How Upcoming Semi-Truck Technology Can Help

It is important to note that self-driving does not mean driverless. The self-driving big rig that Otto, a startup owned by Uber, transported Budweiser on was not driverless. A driver was in the vehicle, just not in the driver’s seat. Because self-driving big rigs are in the starting phase, driver’s will still have to be in the truck to take over whenever needed.


You might think that driverless semi-trucks are going to take over the industry, but that won’t be for many decades because human sight and skill will still be needed to take over when crossing difficult terrain or weather. Otto's technology only works on highways so as to avoid incidents with pedestrians and bikers, as well as other unforeseeable obstacles.


With that in mind, self-driving semi-trucks can actually help the industry as well as the drivers. It will provide faster transport because the truck will be able to keep driving when the driver needs to rest.  With faster deliveries, drivers will be able to be home more often and therefore have a better quality of life. In addition to that, faster deliveries will allow drivers to pick up more loads, which will increase their pay. With more time at home, more time to rest up (shorter shifts), and increased pay, more drivers will want to stay at their jobs for longer.


Competent adults younger than twenty-one are not yet legally able to drive over state lines. People in the industry are fighting to change that law, and self-driving technology could help win that fight. The advancing technology may be able to monitor driving skills of younger driver’s, and possibly even drive over state lines in self-driving mode!


It is natural to be wary of advancing technology, but taking a deeper look at it gives a positive outlook. If you are interested in entering the growing transportation industry, contact us!