Self-driving trucks: what it means for the Australian industry

Self-driving trucks: what it means for the Australian industry

If you're a truck driver or in the heavy haulage industry - you’ll have heard about self-driving trucks. The first fleets are set to hit the roads in the United States and will affect truckers across the country, while, here, South Australia have already started trialling the idea.

While United States transport companies and employees are already feeling the pressure of the changes, here in Australia we're yet to fully process the impact driverless trucks will have on truck drivers, transport companies and the Australian heavy haulage industry as a whole.

For transport companies, there are plenty of positives. Transport costs will be greatly reduced after the initial outlay of the technology behind the self-driving vehicles. Salaries will be cut down and deliveries can happen 24/7, without any limitations caused by driver health and safety regulations. Insurance costs would also be reduced, as self-driving trucks prove to be safer.

For truckers and the people behind the steering wheels of these traditional trucks, the rapidly approaching industry change isn't quite as positive. The implementation of self-driving trucks is sure to greatly reduce the number of jobs in the industry. For a lot of unskilled truckers, moving out of the heavy haulage industry and training for a new job is unfeasible and will have a huge impact on their lives and ability to support themselves.

However, it's not all bad news for the employees. While the number of jobs will reduce, they won't disappear completely. These self-driving trucks will still need someone present in case of an emergency, and will require more skilled mechanics to keep them running smoothly. The change in industry will also reduce the lifestyle issues associated with driving a truck for long distances. These include sleep deprivation, obesity, heart attacks and strokes.

For the heavy haulage industry, there is no doubt self-driving trucks will completely revolutionise how things are done. Whether it will be overwhelmingly positive or negative is yet to be seen, but it's a change that needs to be managed well by companies to ensure it's a smooth transition.

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