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Opinion
Thomas Black

Driverless Trucks Can Be Safe and Efficient

Autonomous rigs can help alleviate a worker shortage and reduce freight costs if introduced properly to a skeptical public.

Drivers optional.

Drivers optional.

Photographer: Paul Ratje/AFP/Getty Images

Long-haul trucking has always been a tough job that keeps drivers away from their families for days and sometimes weeks. It’s no wonder there’s a perennial shortage of them. The pool of available drivers is aging — the median age is about 46 and climbing — and the industry is struggling to attract younger people to get behind the wheel of a big rig.

Critics contend the problem is rooted in pay. Raise truckers’ wages, they say, and more will be willing to hit the road, even with the sacrifices to home life. A survey by the American Trucking Associations published on Wednesday, however, suggested the problem goes beyond compensation, especially after Covid-19 unleashed a pandemic of self-reflection on life’s priorities. The job description is stark: Live out of a truck for days while missing your children’s games or school plays.