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Driverless Trucks will Change Supply Chain Strategies
by Brianna Fisher
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Majority of the accidents in the United States are caused by driver error so what if this can be lowered by having cars drive themselves? At the first World's Fair, there was talk about a driverless car that would be available to the public by the 60s even though that has not happened we are closer to having these kinds of cars on the road. Currently, cars are equipped with advanced technology that helps drivers stay in their lane, and avoid collisions. These features are there to keep the driver and other people on the road safe. In addition, these kinds of features are not just on luxury cars, they also come on models that are affordable. The advancement of technology in cars has come a long way since Henry Ford first invented them.

So what does that mean for the $700-billion trucking industry in the United States? It means a dramatic overhaul in the way transportation is managed. Driverless trucks will change the future. According to as of May 2016, eight states allow self-driving vehicles; these states include Nevada, California, Michigan, Florida, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. In April 2016, the formation of a lobbying group called the Self Driving Coalition for Safer Streets was announced. Volvo, Ford, Google, Uber, and Lyft make up the coalition that would help advance the interest of self-driving cars. This group main objective is to push the development of self-driving vehicles among lawmakers, regulators, civic groups, and local government.

Safety and economics are the two major benefits for fueling a driverless technology. The possible economic benefits of driverless trucks within the trucking industry is massive. Based on the Hour of Service regulations, "the typical Over-The-Road tractor-trailer combination with one driver has about a forty percent utilization factor in a twenty four hour period of time." In addition, to the American Trucking Association, the trucking industry was short forty eight thousand drivers in 2015; furthermore, the driver workforce is aging, with the median age of drivers being forty-nine years old. With driverless trucks, time will be used more effectively since they can operate around the clock. The driverless truck technology, will help ease the driver shortage, but do not worry it will not eliminate the need for truck drivers. Several believe that driverless trucks will primarily be used for the interstate systems only, with local drivers connecting with the driverless trucks to complete the first mile and final mile pickups and deliveries on the secondary road systems.

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This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation under Cooperative Agreement No. DTFH6114H00004. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
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