Will Self-Driven Cars Cause Job Losses?

Will Self-Driven Cars Cause Job Losses?
Image by Don Debold @ Flickr

After the advent of the internet, perhaps the biggest and most revolutionary change that civilization will witness is the introduction of self-driven vehicles. It will still be a couple of decades before driverless cars are the norm. But there is no denying that it will be fabulous. These self-driven vehicles will restore mobility to the elderly, disabled and young. Travel will become safer and cheaper.

In a nutshell, these driverless cars are going to change the world. However, there is one huge drawback of the impending revolution the world will witness. That is in the form of these robot cars; thousands of jobs will just disappear.

Role of Automotive Companies

Different companies like Tesla are already working hard to launch autonomous features in their vehicles as early as next year, which means that the threat against jobs is real and immediate. But, the question is what jobs are at risk and how many will be no longer?

It was not very long ago that the first driverless truck went in the wild. Boasting the license plate of AU 010, Freightliner’s Inspiration was a major milestone since the first discussion of autonomous vehicles. Currently, the truck is only legal in Nevada and has the back up of a human driver. But it still remains a monumental step. However, it doesn’t seem to be a promising sign for the truck drivers in the US. Specialists in Van Lease, Northgate, have done some research in this regard. As per them, back in 2014, there were approximately 1.6 million truck drivers in America, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics and their mean income amounted to $42,000. This is about 0.3% of the GDP of the United States.

The Effect on Service Drivers

While the new trucks may not be fully autonomous right now, but the technology will eventually catch up and when it does, these truck drivers will be out of jobs. As per the count on delivery truck operators, nearly 3 million people will lose their job in the next decade or so. Other than truck drivers, service drivers such as taxi drivers and also those of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft will also take the effect. The technology of autonomous vehicle continues to improve. So it is easy to imagine a world where no human operator will be operating these vehicles.

The launch of these vehicles would lead to a loss of 1 million jobs pertaining to service drivers, including 500,000 school bus drivers, 160,000 Uber drivers, 160,000 transit bus drivers and 180,000 taxi drivers. Other than these, peripheral jobs will also suffer that are not directly involved in driving, but do provide services to modern drivers such as auto body repair shops. Driverless cars will not be perfect in safety terms, but will be better than the average American driver. Google has already done tests on its vehicles publicly for six years and they have been in only 11 minor accidents.

Self-driven vehicles will reduce the crash rate by 90 percent, which means trip to repair shops will also decrease. Other jobs affected will include parking lot attendants, rental car agencies, street meter reads and gas station attendants. Overall, the upcoming revolution will put 4 million jobs at risk, which is about 2 percent of total employment.

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