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Some Truckers Worry about Autonomous Vehicles

Truckers, owners, operators, police, and safety experts all want Congress to regulate self-driving cars and trucks before they hit the road in large numbers. Especially worrisome is the safety and security of autonomous big rigs like semi-tractor-trailers.

In the second of two features, Michelle O'Neill reports truck drivers may think the technology will eliminate their jobs, but others say just the opposite.

At Scott Community College in Bettendorf, Ray Hitchcock is the Facilitator of the Truck Driving Program. He says the nation already needs more truckers. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics says demand for long haul truck drivers is expected to grow six percent over the next nine years.

Ken Hall, General Sec.-Treas., International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Screenshot from video of 9/13/2017 committee hearing, "Transportation Innovation: Automated Trucks & our Nation's Highways"
Credit https://goo.gl/TSUurp / U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

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Last fall, the Senate Science, Commerce, and Transportation Committee held a hearing about automated trucks. One of the panelists was Ken Hall, the General Secretary Treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He says union truckers are worried about their jobs and other potential problems.

Credit U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Colorado U.S. Senator Cory Gardner. Screenshot from Sept. 13th, 2017 hearing

A member of the committee, Colorado US Senator Cory Gardner, is also concerned about truck drivers and job security. He says it's very important to get the word out that the new technology will increase the number of jobs, not the opposite.

Trucking companies, distributors, and owner-operators have a lot invested in their current fleets and probably won't replace them very quickly with new trucks, loaded with automated technology.

David Heller from the Truckload Carriers Association says commercial trucking companies realize that FULLY automated trucks are not feasible in the near future, and drivers are a necessity.

Credit Michelle ONeill / WVIK News
Ray Hitchcock, Facilitator Truck Driving Program, Scott Community College

Scott Community College's Ray Hitchcock agrees. And local companies have not yet asked him to change the curriculum of the trucking program.

Officially, Michelle's title is WVIK News Editor. She does everything there is to do in the newsroom and whatever may be needed around the radio station.
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