Driver­less Trucks: New Re­port Maps Out Global Ac­tion On Driver Jobs And Le­gal Is­sues

AUTOMATED ROAD FREIGHT WILL SAVE COSTS, RE­DUCE EMIS­SIONS, MAKE ROADS SAFER. BUT THE IM­PACT ON DRIVER JOBS RE­QUIRES A MAN­AGED TRAN­SI­TION, SAYS STUDY.

Road Today - - CONTENTS -

Gov­ern­ments must con­sider ways to man­age the tran­si­tion to driver­less trucks in or­der to avoid po­ten­tial so­cial dis­rup­tion from job losses, says a new re­port pub­lished by the In­ter­na­tional Trans­port Fo­rum (ITF) with three part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Self-driv­ing trucks will help save costs, lower emis­sions and make roads safer. They could also ad­dress the short­age of pro­fes­sional driv­ers faced by road trans­port in­dus­try, the study says.

But automated trucks could re­duce the de­mand for driv­ers by 50-70% in the US and Europe by 2030, with up to 4.4 mil­lion of the pro­jected 6.4 mil­lion pro­fes­sional truck­ing jobs be­com­ing re­dun­dant, ac­cord­ing to one sce­nario.

Even if the rise of driver­less trucks dis­suades new­com­ers from truck­ing, over 2 mil­lion driv­ers in the US and Europe could be di­rectly dis­placed, ac­cord­ing to sce­nar­ios ex­am­ined for the re­port.

The re­port makes four rec­om­men­da­tions to help man­age the tran­si­tion to driver­less road freight:

Es­tab­lish a tem­po­rary tran­si­tion ad­vi­sory board for the truck­ing in­dus­try -

Gov­ern­ments should es­tab­lish a tran­si­tion ad­vi­sory board for the truck­ing in­dus­try to ad­vise on labour is­sues as­so­ci­ated with the in­tro­duc­tion of driver­less trucks. The board should be tem­po­rary and in­clude rep­re­sen­ta­tives from labour unions, road freight busi­nesses, ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers and gov­ern­ment. It would sup­port the gov­ern­ment in choos­ing the right pol­icy mix to en­sure that costs, ben­e­fits and risks from automated road haulage are fairly dis­trib­uted.

Con­sider a tem­po­rary per­mit sys­tem to man­age the speed of adop­tion and to sup­port a just tran­si­tion for dis­placed driv­ers, while en­sur­ing fair ac­cess to mar­kets -

Gov­ern­ments should con­sider a mech­a­nism to shape the tran­si­tion to driver­less trucks. A per­mit sys­tem would of­fer in­flu­ence over the speed of up­take as well as rev­enue to sup­port dis­placed driv­ers. Where econ­omy-wide un­em­ploy­ment sup­port is con­sid­ered in­ad­e­quate, ad­di­tional as­sis­tance could come in the form of tar­geted labour mar­ket pro­grams to try to re-de­ploy driv­ers. It could also take the form of ad­di­tional in­come re­place­ment pay­ments where al­ter­na­tive em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties have also been re­duced by au­to­ma­tion. For rea­sons of fair­ness, funds for tran­si­tion as­sis­tance should be gen­er­ated by the main ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the op­er­a­tion of driver­less trucks. The sale of per­mits to op­er­a­tors ex­pe­ri­enc­ing op­er­at­ing cost re­duc­tions could be com­ple­mented by con­tri­bu­tions of all road users who will ben­e­fit from improved safety. Care­ful de­sign of the per­mit sys­tem would en­sure that per­mits are used to man­age the labour tran­si­tion fairly and not as a proxy to limit the free move­ment of goods.

Set in­ter­na­tional stan­dards, road rules and ve­hi­cle reg­u­la­tions for self-driv­ing trucks -

Har­mon­i­sa­tion of rules across coun­tries is crit­i­cal for max­imis­ing the gains from driver­less truck tech­nol­ogy. Com­mon ve­hi­cle stan­dards and op­er­a­tional rules would al­low smooth cross-bor­der move­ments of au­ton­o­mous trucks and should be put in place at least at a con­ti­nen­tal level, prefer­ably at the global level. The proac­tive ap­proach of many gov­ern­ments to test per­mits and ad hoc exemptions to road rules al­lows dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to be tested in par­al­lel which can speed up the ma­tur­ing of the tech­nol­ogy. How­ever, such com­pe­ti­tion en­tails the risk of in­suf­fi­cient at­ten­tion on the ul­ti­mate goal of har­mon­i­sa­tion.

Con­tinue driver­less truck pi­lot projects to test ve­hi­cles, net­work tech­nol­ogy and com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­to­cols -

Gov­ern­ments, in­dus­try and re­searchers should con­tinue to ad­vance tests on pub­lic roads in des­ig­nated cor­ri­dors and ar­eas for tri­alling ve­hi­cles, net­work tech­nol­ogy and com­mu­ni­ca­tions pro­to­cols. This way var­i­ous tech­nolo­gies are able to be tested with­out com­mit­ting to an in­di­vid­ual com­pany, stan­dard or tech­nol­ogy early in the de­vel­op­ment process, en­sur­ing that ex­pen­sive net­work-wide in­vest­ments are not wasted or over-spec­i­fied. This will help en­sure so­ci­etal ben­e­fits from automated road freight trans­port will be max­imised.

These rec­om­men­da­tions were agreed jointly by or­gan­i­sa­tions rep­re­sent­ing truck man­u­fac­tur­ers, truck op­er­a­tors and trans­port work­ers’ unions, un­der the aus­pices of an in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion. This broad coali­tion of stake­hold­ers lends the call to ac­tion par­tic­u­lar weight.

The re­port was pre­pared jointly by the Euro­pean Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion (ACEA), the In­ter­na­tional Trans­port Work­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion and the In­ter­na­tional Road Trans­port Union (IRU), the road trans­port’s in­dus­try’s global body, in a pro­ject led by the In­ter­na­tional Trans­port Fo­rum, a Paris-based in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion linked to the OECD.

The ITF is an in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion with 57 mem­ber coun­tries (in­clud­ing Canada, USA, Mex­ico, In­dia). The only global body for all modes, it acts as pol­icy think tank and or­gan­ises the an­nual sum­mit of trans­port min­is­ters.

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