The Autonomous Future Of The Trucking Industry In New Jersey
The long-awaited future of self-driving vehicles taking over American roads is getting closer every day, with Waymo resuming self-driving tests in some parts of the country as it seeks to maintain its position as the frontrunner in autonomous vehicles. One industry that is eagerly waiting for autonomous driving technology to become mainstream is trucking. With Americans doing more shopping online and demanding goods to be delivered faster, there’s a growing shortage of truck drivers, and trucking companies have identified autonomous trucks as a viable solution to this problem. Residents of New Jersey are particularly interested in seeing how the technology will change things: with New Jersey being home to the largest port in the East Coast, they are likely to encounter more self-driving trucks on their roads than most other states. When properly deployed, autonomous driving technology could transform the New Jersey trucking industry in several ways.
Impact on truck drivers
One of the biggest fears that people have about autonomous driving technology in the trucking industry is its impact on the thousands of truck drivers in New Jersey. Although some have suggested that autonomous trucks will wipe out all truck driving jobs, data compiled by Harvard university shows that this will likely not be the case. For one, full automation of truck driving is still far in the future. What’s expected to be rolled out in the coming years is level 4 automation, where the system controls most, but not all, driving and monitoring activities. Even though trucks will be able to drive themselves for most of the journey, drivers will still have to take over in some instances, such as when maneuvering in and out of the busy streets of New Jersey. Also, even if autonomous technology takes care of all the driving, truck drivers perform many other tasks that cannot be fully automated, including checking vehicles, securing cargo, maintaining logs, and providing customer service. This shows that even though the technology will take some jobs, it won’t be as many as people fear.
Unexpected expenses and safety
While autonomous driving technology may help trucking companies reduce their driver wage bill, it will come with other hidden costs that many companies are yet to consider. One thing that will likely change is insurance rates: since this technology is still new, insurance providers are yet to deal with the risks of autonomous driving on a widespread scale, and it’s highly likely that trucking insurance will skyrocket due to the fear of the unknown. The same goes for trucking legal services. Although some of the common causes of truck accidents, such as driver fatigue, unfamiliarity with roadways, speeding and prescription drug use, are eliminated when a computer is in control, autonomous trucks may still get involved in accidents as a result of other drivers, road conditions, or even system failures. Trucking companies will need the services of trucking lawyers who are well versed in autonomous driving technology and who’ll have a good understanding of the yet-to-be-established autonomous trucking legal framework.
While autonomous driving technology sounds exciting to many people right now, there’s a good chance that this will change once it starts getting rolled out for public use. People already feel nervous when driving next to a large truck. The image of looking up and seeing no one in the driver seat is unnerving and unsettling, and there’s no telling how New Jersey residents will feel about it. Ultimately, consumers decide on the technology they want, and if they take a stand against autonomous trucking for any reason, businesses will have to reconsider their technological models.
Exciting times lie ahead in the New Jersey trucking industry, and autonomous driving technology will be at the heart of it. It’s impossible to tell whether the technology will ultimately be accepted, but if it is, it will definitely come with significant economic, social and political implications, both in New Jersey and across the rest of the country.