Will Elon Musk and the Self-Driving Truck Save Shipping?

There’s a lot of talk about the driver shortage in the logistics world and has been for some time. However, as a strong economy and low unemployment rate spell good news for most Americans, it’s exacerbating the shortage issue further in logistics and transportation. Let’s take a look at the driver shortage issue: how it began, why it’s still going strong, all the consumer implications, and finally, how can we solve it? Here’s a hint, it may involve a self-driving truck soon enough.

The Driver Shortage

It seems unbelievable, but according to the American Trucking Association, the annual turnover rate for truck drivers in 2017 was 90% and we are already well into a 51,000 driver shortage in 2018. Despite companies offering increases in pay and sign-on bonuses, the shortage hasn’t lessened. This extensive need for truck drivers comes predominantly from companies like Amazon and Walmart that are shipping goods cross-country. And, since logistics costs are ubiquitous, it’s now causing the cost of goods to rise.

Why aren’t more people rushing to get their CDL license and be truckers? A truck driver’s life is difficult. Often times the job keeps drivers from family for days and weeks at a time and is a major contributor to unhealthy lifestyles and the consequences of such. And the pay, despite the promise of bonuses, often isn’t what it seems. Also, the younger generation is taking notice of the self-driving trucks they fear will dominate the industry and leave them unemployed in a few short years, and opting for other careers instead.

Elon Musk’s Self-Driving Semi: The Solution?

In November of 2017, Tesla rolled out its new fully electric semi-truck which can go 500 miles between charges and haul 80,000 pounds. Not only is it changing the logistics game, but it is also improving safety with its Enhanced Autopilot feature which works best on highways to automatically brake, keep in lanes, and warn of lane departures. Nearly 4,000 Americans die in truck-related deaths each year, so this technology is being warmly welcomed.

However, as veteran truckers and most industry experts will tell you, human drivers aren’t going away anytime soon. Companies like Tesla and Waymo are piloting self-driving trucks in cities all over the country, but there are still a few hurdles. For Musk, 500 miles isn’t that long in “trucking miles” and charge stations are not that easy to find. There’s still a lot that needs to be improved before these autonomous vehicles can fill the gap the driver shortage is leaving.

Are you looking for a company with the right connections to ensure your goods are shipped on time and at the lowest cost possible? If so, contact us at Langham Logistics to discuss how we can bring you the best of modern technology, relationship pricing, and a commitment to quality. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

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