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4 million jobs

may be gone when autonomous driving is fully implemented.

At an average salary of $33k, that’s $132 billion in wages that will disappear from payroll.

This from a report from the Center for Global Policy Solutions released last month – thanks to Insurance Journal for the heads’ up.

A quick primer – this contemplates “Level 5” autonomous driving – that is, the vehicle can handle every driving situation without human intervention.  Today, some vehicles have attained Level 4, which allows hands free driving in most situations such as highway and parking.

Some will scoff, citing regulatory hurdles, consumer reluctance, or just Luddism as reasons this will never happen.  Me?  I’d feel a lot safer if that dual semi trailer had Watson behind the wheel – and I’d be pretty happy to have a lot more time to work, read, call my mom, sister, and kids, text and blog while traveling from upstate New York to Boston, NYC, Philly, or Cleveland.

Implications abound.

  • more productivity for Americans
  • lower work comp premium for insurers
  • fewer injured workers
  • far fewer accidents = less need for replacement parts, less need for body shops, paint techs, wholesalers
  • less need for truck stops, mechanics, motels and restaurants (and these are in addition to the 4 million drivers)
  • lower work comp medical costs
  • way harder to re-employ transportation workers looking for employment
  • increased inequality as transportation is one of the few sectors with large numbers of relatively good-paying jobs.

What does this mean for you?

Denial is not a viable long-term option. Adaptation is.

7 thoughts on “4 million jobs”

  1. Had to look up Luddism!

    I don’t know or think it can be stopped. One needs to remember the onset and proliferation of self-driving cars/trucks/buses may lead to the end of traffic jams because self-driving cars, buses and trucks talk to each other and could all go relatively fast without having to worry about people doing stupid and dangerous stuff. As someone who lived in traffic jams for more than forty years, I think anyone who sees that happening is going to want to sign up for whatever stops traffic jams.

    That said, it will still be a wrenching change. One of out five U.S. jobs are in transportation.

  2. It won’t happen in our lifetimes. Most of the benefits everyone quotes anticipate a world in which there are no more human drivers. The traffic example above only works if all human drivers are gone. Consider al of those that can’t afford an autonomous vehicle or simply want to drive a classic car. We will never ever have humans off the roads entirely.

    1. Hi Greg thanks for the note. I think we are talking about different results or implications. Driving jobs will be affected by autonomous technology; there will always be humans driving however level 4 and 5 vehicles will be better at avoiding bad human drivers.

      I don’t see this as all-or-nothing rather over time the impact will increase.

  3. This is everyone in the transport industry dream come true. This will happen, UPS and FEDEX alone are right now just crunching profit numbers taking the humans out of the equation for their transport systems.

  4. Not to mention big organ donor problem. Most of the organ donations today come from automobile accidents. Ok, maybe organ donation might not impact work comp but something to think about as it will be an issue.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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