OTTAWA, ON – The Canadian Trucking Alliance has told Canada’s Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications that truck drivers will continue to be needed as automated vehicle technologies advance. In fact, the technologies could make the idea of operating a commercial vehicle more inviting and accessible to a new generation of drivers.
The committee is preparing a special study on regulatory and technical issues linked to deploying connected and automated vehicles. It will consider factors such as privacy, energy, land use, transportation demand, and employment.
Marco Beghetto, the alliance’s vice president of communications, cautioned the committee against using terms like “autonomous” or “driverless” vehicles. He’d rather see references like Advanced Driver Assist Systems.
“Technology will not replace commercial vehicle operators. Technology and training aids the future truck operator,” said Beghetto. “The new modern high-tech truck will introduce many changes to our industry, but the foreseeable future is not about the driverless truck, but rather the integration of trained professional drivers into a cab with innovative technology.”
“Let’s do away, once and for all, with the myth that these technologies will undoubtedly supplant our nation’s workforce of truck operators. Rather, let’s work towards ensuring the new breed of drivers to our industry are as safe and professional as our current workforce,” he said.
Beghetto likened the evolution in automation to the experience of the airline industry, where pilots are still required.
He highlighted several driving-related jobs that have nothing to do with holding a wheel, such as maintaining security, balancing loads, managing paperwork, communicating with customers, and conducting mechanical inspections.
Provincial and federal regulators should work in tandem to ensure the technology is maximized, and it needs to be compatible with traffic management systems in different jurisdictions, he added.
Beghetto also called on the government to consider incentives for early adopters, while accelerating safety and manufacturing standards that are consistent with those in the U.S.