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Prime Mover Magazine

Technology could ease driver shortage: IRU

Autonomous vehicles and driver shortages topped the agenda of the spring meetings at International Road Transport Union’s (IRU) goods transport council on 3 May.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO, Chris Spear, focused on ‘driver assisted’ rather than ‘driver displaced’ technology, encouraging the industry and regulators to look at the next five to 15 years, which promise to deliver assisted driving rather than a switch to full automation. Platooning reportedly showed how assisted technology can yield clear gains on safety, emissions reduction and efficiency.

The IRU said in a statement that assisted driving also has the potential to transform the workforce to become younger and more technologically skilled in the very near future. Spear argued for training and investment into a new block of aspiring talent to ease current driver shortages.

Spear highlighted the industry’s duty to “engage and drive outcomes” now, outlining the benefits of better connectivity to eliminate congestion, streamline services and offer economic gains.

“Commercial transport is the best place to develop and accelerate autonomous technology, given its business-to-business interests, which stand to reap considerable cost rewards,” according to IRU. “An interchange with passenger transport is critical, and over time small businesses will see the value in adopting the technology.”

Spear reportedly encourages the industry to look beyond trucking, citing the example of intermodal connectivity in the US, where “trucking is now rail’s biggest customer” and the services are fully integrated, thanks to technology.

(Image: American Trucking Associations President and CEO, Chris Spear.)

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