A report on the situation of EU road transport warns that a shortage of truck drivers could become a severe problem if the economic situation in the EU improves. The report commissioned by the EU (published in June) proposes several measures including:
– Improve the truck driver’s image and career prospects
– Improve quality of work
– Reduce the entry barriers (license fees)
– Implement coach relays to ensure more drivers can stay home overnight
The report discusses several innovations that might be relevant to the profession but does not even mention autonomous vehicle technology. This is surprising because self-driving trucks would be an excellent starting point for autonomous vehicles as they would lead to high productivity increases (about 30 percent of total truck operating costs are driver wages). Risk could be minimized by operating on highways only – hauling long distance freight between select distribution centers. Human drivers could then distribute the freight locally.
The report should be seen as further evidence to encourage the introduction of driverless technology in transporation because it shows that few people consider trucking as their dream job (many of jobless Europeans are not willing to enter this profession) and because it reduces the worry about technology-induced job losses.