Call for international standards on self-driving truck technology

New report maps global action on driver jobs and legal issues as more and more countries consider driverless truck technology

Call for international standards on self-driving truck technology
The report has made recommendations to help manage the transition to driverless road freight.


Automated road freight will save costs, reduce emissions and make roads safer but the impact on driver jobs requires a managed transition, a new study suggests.

The report, Managing the transition to driverless road freight transport, suggests governments must consider ways to manage the transition to driverless trucks in order to avoid potential social disruption from job losses.                            

"Self-driving trucks will help save costs, lower emissions and make roads safer," International Transport Forum (ITF), which is one of the participants in the study, notes.

"They could also address the shortage of professional drivers faced by road transport industry.

"But automated trucks could reduce the demand for drivers by 50-70 per cent in the US and Europe by 2030, with up to 4.4 million of the projected 6.4 million professional trucking jobs becoming redundant.

"Even if the rise of driverless trucks dissuades newcomers from trucking, over 2 million drivers in the US and Europe could be directly displaced."

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

  • Establish a transition advisory board to advise on labour issues
  • Consider a temporary permit system to manage the speed of adoption
  • Set international standards, road rules and vehicle regulations for self-driving trucks
  • Continue pilot projects with driverless trucks to test vehicles, network technology and communications protocols.

The recommendations have been jointly agreed by organisations representing truck manufacturers, truck operators and transport workers' unions, under the auspices of ITF.

"Driverless trucks could be a regular presence on many roads within the next ten years," ITF secretary general José Viegas says.

"Trials on public roads are under way in many regions including the United States and the European Union.

"Manufacturers are investing heavily into automation, and many governments are actively reviewing their regulations.

"Preparing now for potential negative social impact of job losses will mitigate the risks in case a rapid transition occurs."

The report was prepared jointly by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), the International Transport Workers' Federation and the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the road transport's industry's global body, in a project led by the International Transport Forum, a Paris-based intergovernmental organisation linked to the OECD.

ACEA secretary general Erik Jonnaert warns that automated vehicles are not just one country’s issue and we need international standards, legislation and processes to obtain relevant exemptions from road rules for driverless trucks.

"Harmonisation of rules across countries is critical for maximising the gains from driverless truck technology," Jonnaert says.

"Otherwise we risk having a patchwork of rules and regulations, which could hinder manufacturers and road users from investing in automated vehicles."
The ITF is an intergovernmental organisation with 57 member countries. The only global body for all modes, it acts as policy think tank and organises the annual summit of transport ministers.

Read the full report here.

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