However, the trade group agrees with the assessment that the pace of potential displacement of drivers due to technology will not be quick, if at all, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said.
“ATA has long said that there will be a place for truck drivers in the cabs of trucks for the foreseeable future and beyond, and we have yet to see compelling data or evidence to change that opinion,” Costello said.
They conducted the research to support the paper’s main theory, that autonomous vehicle technology could displace approximately a quarter of all long-haul truck drivers, which is far fewer than has been speculated.
The researchers argue that while driving constitutes a large portion of what truckers do, it’s not the only aspect of the job or skill required, and tasks such as freight handling, customer service and safety can’t easily be replaced by the mid-level autonomous technology that will appear first in the industry.
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“Her numbers are probably as good as anybody’s out there.” If fewer long-haul drivers work in the United States than the industry’s generally accepted estimate, it also calls into question the long-held stance that there aren’t enough drivers to go around, causing a widespread shortage. Census and Bureau of Transportation Statistics ran the Federal Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey to count trucks and other vehicles for 40 years but dropped It in 2002 for budget reasons.
The shortage exists only because long-haul truckers who get paid by the mile don’t make enough to stay in jobs that put them on the road for weeks at a time and they quit the business, creating enormous turnover, economists and industry insiders who reviewed the paper said. Tallying long-haul drivers is further complicated by lack of current data on the number of trucks operating in the country, Monaco said. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains a truck registry through the Motor Carrier Management Information System.