Trucking’s Future Doesn’t Necessarily Include Human Truckers

It’s said that truckers are the unsung heroes of U.S. commerce. From stocking supermarket shelves with food to delivering construction and infrastructure products to job sites to providing all the medical supplies and other necessities required not only for the everyday patient but also for disaster areas, truckers are not only an important part of maintaining everyday life but an essential component of a thriving and healthy society. 

It’s because of the sacrifice truckers make by being away from their families for up to weeks at a time while working mind-numbing long shifts that truck driver recognition awards were created. Says EDCO.COM, manufacturer of custom occupational trophies and awards, it’s important to recognize top truck drivers’ performance with a unique semi-truck award. 

A yellow semi truck, often a truckers favourite.

The awards not only recognize excellence in the profession but boost industry morale and make other drivers strive to do better. Service crystals, truck driver retirement awards, safety driver plaques, and custom acrylic truck trophies can be proudly displayed at home on a shelf or fireplace mantle. It will act as an everlasting reminder of excellence displayed in a very difficult and, at times, dangerous profession. 

That said, what is the future of truck driving in the 2020s and beyond? With new innovations coming online every year, will there even be a need for human drivers in the near future? According to a new report by Tenstreet, with every year that passes, the future of the U.S.’s 3.5 million semi-drivers will be seeing their jobs change or be replaced completely with new, advanced technology.  

High-tech automation will be going beyond altering equipment contained in commercial trucks. While trucking’s future remains uncertain at best, one thing remains very certain: technology is going to play a major role in the many changes to come.

 New software solutions will be critical in streamlining a carrier’s operations to make them more adaptable to unexpected industry changes. Onboarding, recruiting, safety, marketing, and compliance tools that are engineered to save time and cut costs will become the standard for the trucking industry. Here are some other aspects of trucking’s future that don’t necessarily include human truckers. 

The Electric Truck

The future of semi-trucking means a complete switch from fossil fuel to electric. The gas-guzzling giant trucks of the past will give way to cleaner-running electric models. At least, this is what the more environmentally-minded lobbyists in Washington, D.C., are gunning for.  

With the trucking industry is believed to be responsible for a large portion of the country’s carbon emissions, all-electric models could become the norm. However, a complete switch to all-electric vehicles is still a long way off since the technology is far from perfect while creating electric technology also creates a huge carbon footprint. 

New Automation Tech

It’s said that new automation technology will be responsible for everything from fleet management to choosing the optimal route to a specific destination. At present, the trucking industry is seeking ways to use automation to maximize efficiency and, therefore, the bottom line.  

A few trucking companies are utilizing the automation process in ingenious ways. For instance, containers no longer require humans to assist with loading and unloading. Now, automated rail systems move containers from trucks to facilities and vice versa.

A large orange truck with open doors

The Self-Driving Truck

Says Tenstreet, the semis of the future will be self-driving or completely autonomous. Although self-driving technology has been stuck in test mode for years now, the technology is not yet considered safe enough to become the trucking standard. With trucks being far bigger than the average car, self-driving trucks will take longer to enjoy a prominent presence on the country’s roads and highways. It may be another decade or more before they become commonplace.   

When the self-driving truck is considered safe enough to take to the road, it will likely be supervised by a human trucker. You can expect to see a hybrid model truck whereby the vehicle is able to drive itself, but a human trucker will have the option of taking over the manual controls when necessary. 

Effects of Self-Driving Trucks on the Industry

Automation is the keyword for the major changes that are affecting the trucking industry both in the short and long term. What precisely does automation mean when it comes to self-driving semis?

Short-Term Effects of Self-Driving Trucks

  • Human truckers need not worry about unemployment at present. In fact, more truckers will be needed not only to drive the current fossil-fuel-powered fleet trucks but they will be needed as manual drivers when autonomous technology is finally ready to be employed on a mass scale.  
  • Self-driving trucks will be in high demand, but their availability might be low, at least initially.
  • The price of shipping will rise as equipment and technology costs rise.  

Long-Term Effects of Self-Driving Trucks

  • There will be a drop in the number of human driver positions as trucks become fully autonomous and safe. 
  • Truck drivers will make the transition to more administrative duties within trucking companies. 
  • Some human truckers will be needed to drive trucks by remote control.  

The trucking industry is going through many changes in the 2020s, many of them positive. The trucker’s role is bound to change sooner than later from the individual who sits behind the wheel of a massive truck while watching the road go by under his or her wheels to a more stable, remain-in-place employee. An efficient and profitable trucking industry model? Yes. Romantic? No.