Truck driving is a highly sought-after job and is likely to remain that way for some time. The American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates that the industry is currently lacking around 80,000 drivers, making it clear that there is indeed a shortage of truckers. The road transport sector will need to fill this gap in order to meet the needs of a growing population. From food to retail items, interstate transportation is the most reliable and widely used method of distributing products.
Long-haul truckers, who transport a full load from a terminal to a single customer, are the most difficult jobs to do. Due to chronic parking shortages, drivers often waste up to an hour of their legal driving time searching for a place to rest for the night. Additional hours are wasted waiting to pick up and deliver loads. Buss points out that while autonomous trucks may be better suited for long-distance routes in temperate climates, humans are better equipped for short routes, loading and unloading, inclement weather and more. Avery Vise, vice president of road transport at FTR Transportation Intelligence, stated that autonomous trucks are on the horizon, but we won't be seeing them carrying a significant amount of cargo until the second half of the next decade or later. Despite the current huge demand for long-distance truck drivers, researchers are as pessimistic as previous academics, albeit with the quite significant caveat that their pessimism depends on autonomous transportation technology improving so that it can work effectively in the weather conditions seen throughout the continental United States.