Over 3 million Americans work as truck drivers, and over 7 million are employed related to trucking activity. Self-driving truck technology is rapidly becoming sophisticated enough to replace these drivers, and the economy is not prepared to absorb the loss of so many jobs. Truck drivers are 94% male, average age 49, average education high school or one year of college – there are not necessarily other opportunities for them that will pay a comparable salary. Additionally, hundreds of communities are built around the trucking industry, and those communities are also at risk from the coming automation.
We need to implement a plan for how to handle the loss of these jobs, and we have to do it soon. Some estimates have the mass production of these vehicles as occurring within the decade. This has potential for serious unrest if not handled properly.
Truck driving is the most common job in 29 states. As automation improves, millions of American workers’ livelihoods are at stake. We need to engineer a smooth transition for these millions of workers so that their contributions are recognized and that they benefit from some of the new efficiencies and cost-savings. Handled correctly, the automation of truck driving could be celebrated as a positive thing even by any of the workers involved.
Problems to be Solved
- Over 7 million Americans’ jobs, including 3.5 million driving jobs, are at risk as self-driving trucks become more viable.
- Alternative opportunities may not be feasible for a large number of truck drivers.
- Protect Americans who work in the trucking industry
- Enable a smooth transition to autonomous vehicles
- Preserve order and distribute gains equitably
As President, I will…
- Appoint a Trucking Czar to oversee the successful transitioning of truck drivers as self-driving trucks become more commonplace. Ask Andy Stern to lead the commission.
- Propose a tax on profits derived from self-driving trucks to provide severance packages for the drivers whose jobs are replaced. The estimated cost-savings and efficiency gains of automated freight are $168 billion per year which is enough to pay the truckers significant sums and still save tens of billions per year.