Make way for driverless trucks

Jose Viegas, secretary general of the International Transport Forum. (Carin Smith, Fin24)
Jose Viegas, secretary general of the International Transport Forum. (Carin Smith, Fin24)

Leipzig – Automated road freight will save costs, reduce emissions, make roads safer and reduce professional driver shortages but at the same time impact driver jobs, according to a new report released by the International Transport Forum (ITF) on Wednesday.

Jose Viegas, secretary general of the ITF, however emphasised the importance of managing the transition as completely driverless trucks on public roads could become a reality as early as in three years’ time.

“Governments must consider ways to manage the transition to driverless trucks in order to avoid potential social disruption from job losses,” Viegas said at the ITF’s annual summit in Leipzig.

The report makes four key recommendations to help manage the transition to driverless road freight.

The first is to establish a transition advisory board to advise on labour issues. Viegas stressed that ministries of transport cannot manage the process on their own.

Secondly, a temporary permit system should be considered to manage the speed of implementation.

Thirdly, there should be a set of international standards, road rules and vehicle regulations for self-driving trucks and fourthly, there should be continued pilot projects with driverless trucks to test vehicles, network technology and communications protocols.

“Driverless trucks will bring significant changes to transport. It is coming despite many hurdles. Governments and stakeholders have to be ready so that the transition happens in an orderly way,” said Viegas.

“The only doubts are when and how, and we want to have an orderly how – that is why we did the study. About 15 years from now the transport sector will be very different from now and a lot depends on the joint efforts of stakeholders.”

At the same time, Mac Urata of the International Transport Workers’ Federation expressed concern about potential job losses in the industry at the arrival of driverless trucks.

*Fin24 is a guest of the ITF at its summit.

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