Title Title
Truckers will be first casualty of self-driving technology Truckers will be first casualty of self-driving technology
Summary Summary
Long and boring highways are perfect for today's robo-drivers  Long and boring highways are perfect for today's robo-drivers
Highlights Highlights
"Exit-to-exit" autonomous trucking may come in as soon as three years , Trucking industry recorded more workplace deaths in 2016 than any other industry "Exit-to-exit" autonomous trucking may come in as soon as three years , Trucking industry recorded more workplace deaths in 2016 than any other industry
Content Content
<strong><a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-volvocars-uber/volvo-cars-to-supply-uber-with-up-to-24000-self-driving-cars-idUSKBN1DK1NH">While ride-sharing apps</a> are investing in self-driving cars, your</strong><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 1.6rem;"><b> Uber will likely have a human behind the wheel for decades to come. Autonomous technology is simply not ready to handle the unpredictable pedestrians and stop-and-go traffic that comes with urban settings.</b></span>  <strong><a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-volvocars-uber/volvo-cars-to-supply-uber-with-up-to-24000-self-driving-cars-idUSKBN1DK1NH">While ride-sharing apps</a> are investing in self-driving cars, your</strong><b> Uber will likely have a human behind the wheel for decades to come. Autonomous technology is simply not ready to handle the unpredictable pedestrians and stop-and-go traffic that comes with urban settings.</b>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Rural highways, on the other hand, are predictable enough for self-driving vehicles to be implemented in the near future. So while taxi services will require a human driver for some time, long-haul trucking jobs could be automated relatively soon. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Rural highways, on the other hand, are predictable enough for self-driving vehicles to be implemented in the near future. So while taxi services will require a human driver for some time, long-haul trucking jobs could be automated relatively soon. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Steve Viscelli, a sociologist from the University of Pennsylvania who studies automation of trucking, says that self-driving trucks can soon perform what's known as "exit-to-exit" driving. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Steve Viscelli, a sociologist from the University of Pennsylvania who studies automation of trucking, says that self-driving trucks can soon perform what's known as "exit-to-exit" driving. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“You'll see [automated trucks] on interstates first, and probably on routes that aren’t snowy ... any areas that are identified as less complicated ... this is where the technology will be adopted first,” Viscelli told <em>WikiTribune</em>. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“You'll see [automated trucks] on interstates first, and probably on routes that aren’t snowy ... any areas that are identified as less complicated ... this is where the technology will be adopted first,” Viscelli told <em>WikiTribune</em>. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Industry experts believe that exit-to-exit trucking can be automated and made safe in three years, said Viscelli. The prediction may be realistic, considering self-driving trucks are already operating on open roads in the American Southwest. </span><a href="https://www.wired.com/story/embark-self-driving-truck-deliveries/"><span style="font-weight: 400;"><em>Wired</em> reported</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on a fleet of autonomous trucks that hauls refrigerators on the largely monotonous and straight (and thus ideal) roads between Texas and California. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Industry experts believe that exit-to-exit trucking can be automated and made safe in three years, said Viscelli. The prediction may be realistic, considering self-driving trucks are already operating on open roads in the American Southwest. </span><a href="https://www.wired.com/story/embark-self-driving-truck-deliveries/"><span style="font-weight: 400;"><em>Wired</em> reported</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> on a fleet of autonomous trucks that hauls refrigerators on the largely monotonous and straight (and thus ideal) roads between Texas and California. </span>
Safety becomes more of a concern for self-driving trucks once they reach a highway exit. In a near-future scenario, this is where a human driver might step in. Truckers would finish a self-driving truck's delivery once the straight-line portion of the route is over and technical maneuvering is needed. Safety becomes more of a concern for self-driving trucks once they reach a highway exit. In a near-future scenario, this is where a human driver might step in. Truckers would finish a self-driving truck's delivery once the straight-line portion of the route is over and technical maneuvering is needed.
Autonomous trucks safely <span style="font-weight: 400;">navigating through American cities, or even towns, is in the distant future. </span> Autonomous trucks safely <span style="font-weight: 400;">navigating through American cities, or even towns, is in the distant future. </span>
<h2><b>Benefits of self-driving trucks</b></h2> <h2><b>Benefits of self-driving trucks</b></h2>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Demand is high for all self-driving vehicles, but particularly for large trucks, and the base of supporters is diverse. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Demand is high for all self-driving vehicles, but particularly for large trucks, and the base of supporters is diverse. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Economists point to how much the U.S. economy relies on trucks, and the economic losses accrued due to human error. </span><a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/america-faces-shortage-truck-drivers/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Seventy percent of all goods</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in the United States rely on human truckers for delivery (</span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">CBS News</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">). The job's long and inconvenient hours have led to notoriously high turnover. The American Trucking Association recorded a labor shortage of </span><a href="http://www.trucking.org/article/New%20Report%20Says-National-Shortage-of-Truck-Drivers-to-Reach-50,000-This-Year"><span style="font-weight: 400;">50,000 long-haul truckers in October 2017.</span></a> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Economists point to how much the U.S. economy relies on trucks, and the economic losses accrued due to human error. </span><a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/america-faces-shortage-truck-drivers/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Seventy percent of all goods</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in the United States rely on human truckers for delivery (</span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">CBS News</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">). The job's long and inconvenient hours have led to notoriously high turnover. The American Trucking Association recorded a labor shortage of </span><a href="http://www.trucking.org/article/New%20Report%20Says-National-Shortage-of-Truck-Drivers-to-Reach-50,000-This-Year"><span style="font-weight: 400;">50,000 long-haul truckers in October 2017.</span></a>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Public safety advocates point to the frequent accidents associated with truck driving. Large trucks are involved in </span><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2661438/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">5,000 road fatalities</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> each year in the United States, according to the American Public Health Association.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Public safety advocates point to the frequent accidents associated with truck driving. Large trucks are involved in </span><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2661438/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">5,000 road fatalities</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> each year in the United States, according to the American Public Health Association.</span>
Truckers had the <a href="https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0015.pdf">most workplace deaths in 2016 </a>compared to every other industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of these, 88 percent were the result of human error. Truckers had the <a href="https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0015.pdf">most workplace deaths in 2016 </a>compared to every other industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of these, 88 percent were the result of human error.
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Sleep-deprivation commonly plays a role in trucking accidents. The fe</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">deral government <a href="https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/new-hours-service-safety-regulations-reduce-truck-driver-fatigue-begin-today">passed rules in 2013</a> t</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">hat mandate rest time for drivers. However, a 2016 fatal accident </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">blamed on a</span> <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-crash/driver-fatigue-meth-to-blame-in-deadly-2015-tennessee-crash-safety-panel-idUSKCN124271"><span style="font-weight: 400;">trucker who had taken methamphetamines</span></a> <span style="font-weight: 400;">to combat fatigue demonstrates that the problem still exists. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Sleep-deprivation commonly plays a role in trucking accidents. The fe</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">deral government <a href="https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/newsroom/new-hours-service-safety-regulations-reduce-truck-driver-fatigue-begin-today">passed rules in 2013</a> t</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">hat mandate rest time for drivers. However, a 2016 fatal accident </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">blamed on a</span> <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-crash/driver-fatigue-meth-to-blame-in-deadly-2015-tennessee-crash-safety-panel-idUSKCN124271"><span style="font-weight: 400;">trucker who had taken methamphetamines</span></a> <span style="font-weight: 400;">to combat fatigue demonstrates that the problem still exists. </span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">Reducing accidents will also reduce traffic slowdowns, say experts. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Reducing accidents will also reduce traffic slowdowns, say experts. </span>
<h2><b>Threat to labor</b></h2> <h2><b>Threat to labor</b></h2>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The Teamsters Union, which represents roughly 600,000 professional drivers, has lobbied against automation of trucking jobs. One of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_labor_unions_in_the_United_States">largest labor unions</a> in the United States, its focus has been on opposing </span><a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-selfdriving-vehicles/union-cheers-as-trucks-kept-out-of-u-s-self-driving-legislation-idUSKBN1AD2S3"><span style="font-weight: 400;">legislation</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that fast-tracks driverless technology on public roads.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Teamsters Union, which represents roughly 600,000 professional drivers, has lobbied against automation of trucking jobs. One of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_labor_unions_in_the_United_States">largest labor unions</a> in the United States, its focus has been on opposing </span><a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-selfdriving-vehicles/union-cheers-as-trucks-kept-out-of-u-s-self-driving-legislation-idUSKBN1AD2S3"><span style="font-weight: 400;">legislation</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that fast-tracks driverless technology on public roads.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“We’ve been very blunt about our position, we believe there is a role for drivers ... And we don’t want to see an overnight throwing away of rules on the road that have been made over years," Teamsters Union spokesperson Kara Deniz told </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">WikiTribune</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“We’ve been very blunt about our position, we believe there is a role for drivers ... And we don’t want to see an overnight throwing away of rules on the road that have been made over years," Teamsters Union spokesperson Kara Deniz told </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">WikiTribune</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates </span><a href="https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm"><span style="font-weight: 400;">1.7 million people in the United States drive a truck</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> for a living, earning an average annual income of <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/24/news/economy/trucking-jobs/index.htm">$37,930 </a>(<em>CNN</em>). That salary is $4,000 above the national median. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates </span><a href="https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm"><span style="font-weight: 400;">1.7 million people in the United States drive a truck</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> for a living, earning an average annual income of <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/24/news/economy/trucking-jobs/index.htm">$37,930 </a>(<em>CNN</em>). That salary is $4,000 above the national median. </span>
When Congress began drafting legislation on the testing of self-driving technology in 2017, Teamsters representatives countered by campaigning for trucking jobs. The union played a key role in having large-rig trucks excluded from a House bill addressing self-driving vehicles, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-selfdriving/trucking-group-disappointed-self-driving-bill-leaves-out-big-vehicles-idUSKCN1C338F">according to Reuters.</a> The omission of vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds<span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span><a href="https://www.recode.net/2017/10/4/16420420/senate-self-driving-bill-av-start"><span style="font-weight: 400;">ultimately prevented the bill from coming up for vote in the Senate</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Recode</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">).</span> When Congress began drafting legislation on the testing of self-driving technology in 2017, Teamsters representatives countered by campaigning for trucking jobs. The union played a key role in having large-rig trucks excluded from a House bill addressing self-driving vehicles, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-selfdriving/trucking-group-disappointed-self-driving-bill-leaves-out-big-vehicles-idUSKCN1C338F">according to Reuters.</a> The omission of vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds<span style="font-weight: 400;"> </span><a href="https://www.recode.net/2017/10/4/16420420/senate-self-driving-bill-av-start"><span style="font-weight: 400;">ultimately prevented the bill from coming up for vote in the Senate</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> (</span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Recode</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">).</span>
Absent federal legislation, s<span style="font-weight: 400;">tate governments have filled the legislative void. Five states have passed regulations on self-driving vehicles, including trucks, according to </span><a href="https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/wiki/index.php/Automated_Driving:_Legislative_and_Regulatory_Action#State_Bills"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Stanford University</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. California is leading the driverless movement, tripling the number of autonomous vehicles on public roads, </span><a href="https://www.ft.com/content/4377b4c0-0479-11e7-aa5b-6bb07f5c8e12"><span style="font-weight: 400;">from 33 to 103</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, between 2016 and 2017 (</span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Financial Times</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">).</span> Absent federal legislation, s<span style="font-weight: 400;">tate governments have filled the legislative void. Five states have passed regulations on self-driving vehicles, including trucks, according to </span><a href="https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/wiki/index.php/Automated_Driving:_Legislative_and_Regulatory_Action#State_Bills"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Stanford University</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. California is leading the driverless movement, tripling the number of autonomous vehicles on public roads, </span><a href="https://www.ft.com/content/4377b4c0-0479-11e7-aa5b-6bb07f5c8e12"><span style="font-weight: 400;">from 33 to 103</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, between 2016 and 2017 (</span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Financial Times</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">).</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">With more than <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/gauging-investment-in-self-driving-cars/">$80 billion</a> invested in self-driving technology, according to the Brookings Institute, the financial incentive to remove human drivers from vehicles is high.</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">With more than <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/research/gauging-investment-in-self-driving-cars/">$80 billion</a> invested in self-driving technology, according to the Brookings Institute, the financial incentive to remove human drivers from vehicles is high.</span>
<span style="font-weight: 400;">“I just don’t see a scenario where this human-truck partnership makes economic sense,” says Viscelli. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">“I just don’t see a scenario where this human-truck partnership makes economic sense,” says Viscelli. </span>
<h2>How to deal with automation</h2> <h2>How to deal with automation</h2>
The labor effects of self-driving cars raise a broader conversation around automation in general, and social issues connected to mass worker displacement. The labor effects of self-driving cars raise a broader conversation around automation in general, and social issues connected to mass worker displacement.
Jason Hong, computer scientist from Carnegie Mellon University, says the long-term investment should be in jobs that are immune to automation. He describes these positions as anything involving creative problem solving. Professional fields such as social work and communications are obvious candidates. The key will be identifying which human-only jobs don't require a high level of education. Hong uses the example of a plumber. Jason Hong, computer scientist from Carnegie Mellon University, says the long-term investment should be in jobs that are immune to automation. He describes these positions as anything involving creative problem solving. Professional fields such as social work and communications are obvious candidates. The key will be identifying which human-only jobs don't require a high level of education. Hong uses the example of a plumber.
"Every plumbing problem is slightly different and requires problem-solving skills to figure out the root cause, making it harder to fully automate," Hong told <em>WikiTribune</em>. "Every plumbing problem is slightly different and requires problem-solving skills to figure out the root cause, making it harder to fully automate," Hong told <em>WikiTribune</em>.
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