New FMCSA Boss Warns of Coming Truck Driver Job Losses Due to Driverless Trucks
Washington D.C. – The Acting Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is warning that driverless trucks will displace many professional truck drivers.
On Wednesday, Meera Joshi, the FMCSA’s new acting administrator, spoke at the Agency’s annual Analysis, Research and Technology Forum and delivered an alarming message to truckers.
Joshi indicated self-driving trucks represent a serious threat to professional truck drivers and driverless technology is “extremely real” and will have “broad impacts… on people’s livelihoods.”
“We can argue about scope and timeline, but what we can’t argue about is that this a reality,” she said. “There will be a major shift in workforce.”
Further, Joshi elaborated on the quickly approaching challenge of balancing the livelihoods of thousands of truckers with the push to integrate automated technologies.
“This is a real topic, and its timeline differs depending on what perspective you’re looking at. If it’s your livelihood that seems like it’s being threatened, it is an immediate problem. If it is someone in development who feels like things aren’t moving fast enough and the infrastructure isn’t built, then it seems further out. The truth is that there is a huge workforce that today travels all across the nation and performs all of the duties of a professional driver, and it’s been a mainstay of American employment for quite a long time,” Joshi explained.
While she noted “nothing will happen overnight,” she was also clear that “automated vehicles will certainly make inroads into the workforce.”
An extensive report issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in March 2019 warned that autonomous trucks could displace as many as 900,000 professional truck drivers in as soon as the next decade.
Joshi said the Biden Administration is thinking through how to deal with this emerging reality.
“First and foremost, what are the opportunities, thinking about them now, for [a] shifting workforce, what are the training opportunities so that the next generation has the jobs that will be replaced by automation, and what are the additional jobs that can be created through automation that can replace the jobs that may not be available for drivers of tomorrow?”
She emphasized that President Biden, along with the U.S. Department of Transportation led by Secretary Pete Buttigieg, is making sure “we have our hands around how we can best prepare the workforce for this change, regardless of the timetable.”
Truckers Plan “MayDay” Rally
In a brand new exclusive Transportation Nation Network report, we detail ongoing plans among some grassroots trucking groups and leaders to host a three-day protest to sound the alarm about the threat of job losses to driverless trucks.
Will Cook, an owner-operator and one of the protest organizers, told TNN, “We want to get people awake about autonomous technology and the potential ripple effect of putting drivers out of work. We have to get the message out that it is going to affect the middle class across the board. We have to get our Congressional leaders to see how serious we are.”
The protest is set to take place at the Indiana State Capitol from May 1 to May 3.
Click HERE to read TNN’s full report.
Photos courtesy of TuSimple/USDOT