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Union May Win Battle Against Self-Driving Trucks, But Not the War

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Freightliner Inspiration Truck mit Highway Pilot

Truckers are waking up to the threat autonomous vehicles pose to their jobs a decade from now. They’ve convinced Congress to restrict driverless-vehicle legislation to cars (all) and trucks (few) that are under 10,000 pounds. As autonomous vehicles get closer to reality, and if the public decides autonomy make highways safer, truckers may not have the final say.

Right now there’s an undersupply of truckers, especially long-haul drivers, and their average age places them about 15 years from retirement. Autonomous trucking may be what fills the gap in 2030.

The State of Self-Driving Trucks

Work on self-driving trucks has been under way for years. In 2015, the Freightliner division of Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) introduced the Inspiration 18-wheeler (pictured, top) for testing in Nevada. In October 2016, the Otto autonomous truck startup since acquired by Uber, made a real-world delivery of 2,000 cases of Budweiser[2].

This month, Reuters reported[3] Tesla has discussed with Nevada’s DMV the testing of self-driving 18-wheelers in the state. Alphabet’s Waymo division is working on both self-driving trucks and cars. And Ford’s Dynamic Shuttle service[4], which would use yield management software to move small groups of people around a corporate campus, college, or city in large vans, could eventually become an autonomous service.

Once there’s regulatory approval, self-driving trucks would initially start on limited access highways with a driver onboard to take over when needed. The driver would take over in an extreme situation, but with sufficient advance notification, making it a Level 4 autonomous vehicle[5]. He or she would also pilot the truck to and from freight terminals or city delivery points.

The next step would be highway platooning, where a group of a dozen or so trucks convoy with a master driver in the lead truck, followed by driverless trucks. They’d leave enough space for cars to get in lane between them, and they’d have enough onboard intelligence to break down gracefully, meaning edge off the road, turn on flashers, and call for help. They’d convoy to a marshaling yard just off the highway, where drivers would take trucks to their final destinations.

What’s at Risk for Truck Drivers

As many as 3.5 million Americans make their living driving trucks, about half in the over-the-road or long haul business. The demographics explain their angst: They’re older, they’re most likely to be high school graduates, they work long hours, they’re away from home much of the year, and they earn $40,000 to $80,000 a year, the equivalent of $20 to $40 an hour were theirs 40-hour-a-week jobs.

Truckers realize if they give up long-haul truck-driving for a job with less travel and a more stable home life, many will be hard-pressed to match their former incomes. Auto manufacturing jobs in the new South, for instance, pay about $15 an hour.

Local truck drivers for UPS, trash collection, gravel hauling, or store delivery will have the same concerns about a decade later, when trucks are smart enough to navigate all city conditions. That said, somebody still has to get the parcels from the truck to front door, whether it’s a driver or ride-along helper, robot, or drone.

Self-Driving Can Be Stalled, Not Stopped

Longshoremen, who unloaded ships by hand and by crane, fought off the automation of container ships through strikes, port blockades, and some threats of violence. Shipping companies effectively paid them off to stay on the sidelines. Newspapers did the same thing with compositors who manually set text at Linotype and Ludlow machines–paid not to work–at a time when owning a newspaper was a license to print money.

Now, unions have less power. And consumers see the benefit of automation in better selection, lower prices, and sometimes quicker delivery. But they’re also unlikely to turn out their Congressman for another no-vote on allowing self-driving trucks. Truckers might vote on that single issue, about 8,000 of them in the average Congressional district, or 1 percent of eligible voters.

Business wants the lower overhead that autonomous trucking brings. There’s also efficiency: An autonomous truck could cover the 2,800 miles Los Angeles-to-New York in 48 hours, including two to three fuel stops. A lone driver would need about five days to deliver the same load based on hours-of-service rules[6] that require 10 hours off after driving 11 consecutive hours. Produce that moves by air to retain freshness could go by truck. It would use less fuel if the trucks didn’t speed up and slow down, as is the case with some motorists.

It’s also likely autonomous trucks will be safer, although one of the Teamster scare stories suggests autonomous trucks carrying flammable gases could become “driverless bombs[7].” The Teamsters also cite a University of Michigan poll[8] that showed a plurality of Americans don’t want self-driving cars. Other polls swing the other way. A Consumer Technology Association poll found 70 percent of respondents would be willilng to try a partially or fully autonomous car. The most likely description of the US public is that we don’t know much about self-driving cars.

The Teamster victory on current legislation included a 54-0 vote in the Senate. But it also raised the total number of autonomous test vehicles from 2,500 per year to 100,000. It gave the federal government say over autonomous-vehicle rules, not the 50 states, meaning there’s only one legislative body for self-driving advocates to lobby, not 50.

Moral: Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up to Be Truckers

Near term, there’s a shortage of truckers, reaching a quarter-million drivers in five years, says the American Trucking Association. Think of how how many Amazon, eBay, and Zappos packages you get in a month. That will force trucker pay up. Within the decade, though, it will go down if autonomous trucking takes hold. Students in high school now should think about other professions, or at least dual training. Don’t just learn how to drive a truck; learn how to work on truck or car engines. A Mercedes/Sprinter dealer will pay a top notch diesel technician $100,000 per year.


  1. ^ Terms of use (www.ziffdavis.com)
  2. ^ real-world delivery of 2,000 cases of Budweiser (www.extremetech.com)
  3. ^ reported (www.reuters.com)
  4. ^ Dynamic Shuttle service (www.extremetech.com)
  5. ^ autonomous vehicle (www.extremetech.com)
  6. ^ hours-of-service rules (www.fmcsa.dot.gov)
  7. ^ driverless bombs (teamster.org)
  8. ^ poll (teamster.org)

The SAAQ required him to drive trucks with a single eye – The Siver Times

Photo Magalie Lapointe
Guy Smiley has finally won its long struggle against the SAAQ who wanted to return to it truck driving with only one eye.

Magalie Lapointe

Wednesday, 16 August, 2017 22:50

Wednesday, 16 August, 2017 22:50

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SAINTE-BARBE | A truck driver blind in one eye will not have to drive again the truck as wanted to compel the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec.

In 1982, Guy Smiley was stung in one eye by a horse while hitching a ride on a motorcycle.

He has not been able to work for five years and has received indemnities from the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) until 1987.

He was then able to continue driving trucks until 2004, the year of his relapse. He has never been able to drive a truck afterwards.


But in 2015, the SAAQ has eased its criteria for allowing a blind eye to truck driving. Thus, it has cut the allowances to Mr. Hoe, telling him to return to work.

The 60-year old man then began a battle of a year and a half against the SAAQ, which cost him 22 $ 500 of miscellaneous expenses, because he could not see himself driving with one eye.

All the more that the United States has more stringent criteria and that it would not have been able to cross the border with a truck in this state.

“How do you want that I lead a truck ? It is said that a trucker must have eyes all around the head and I, I lack one. It is completely illogical and ridiculous ! ” has launched the trucker angry.

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A first decision had given reason to the SAAQ, but Mr. Smiley has appealed. At the beginning of August, two administrative judges have given him win the case and the SAAQ will now have to compensate her retroactively.

“It’s scary to fight against a giant like the SAAQ. These are large machines. But I had to do, it was just not common sense “, said the trucker.

According to Mr. Smiley, if it was folded to the requirement of the SAAQ to return to work, he would eventually lose his permit to the trucker during a medical test because of its poor peripheral vision.

But the battle against the SAAQ has left traces. Without any income from January 2016, Mr. Smiley has been forced to put his house on sale in January 2017. By the time he sold in June.


“I’ve had a visitor, I accepted the offer. My house was worth $ 500,000, and I sold 325 000 $. I couldn’t wait and take the risk of not being able to make the payments “, he told.

Since he was self-employed when he made his relapse in 2004, he had no insurance to pay.

His lawyer, Marc Bellemare, believes that the case of Mr. Smiley is not unique.

“This story shows a side scabrous of the SAAQ who module his beautiful speech of road safety to the drop when it comes time to compensate a truck driver blind in one eye, and deprived of binocular vision. It gives cold in the back, ” added the lawyer.

$ 650 per week

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The SAAQ will have to pay approximately $ 650 per week, and up to the 68th anniversary of Guy Smiley (68 years being the maximum age to receive compensation from the SAAQ).

The compensation to the SAAQ shall be retroactive to January 2016. Mr. Smiley earned about $ 1500 gross per week when he was a truck driver.

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Goulburn Valley News – Triple M 95.3 Thursday August 17 2017 – Triple M

It’s been a horror past 24 hours on our roads, with 2 fatalities occurring in separate incidents.

At about 10.20am the first of the collisions occurred near Benalla, a truck and a ute believed to have been travelling north on the Hume Highway.

The 2 vehicles came together, resulting in the death of an as yet unidentified man.

The 36-year-old truck driver from Brookfield is now helping police with their investigations.

Not long after another man died in Cobram, in a collision between a truck and a car.

According to police the truck was travelling north on the Benalla-Tocumwal road, the 71-year-old male driver of the car travelling West on Healy road

The truck driver was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

In yet another incident, a 54-year-old man was transported to Royal Melbourne hospital after hitting a tree in Kyabram South.


Benalla Mayor Councillor Don Firth has urged locals to have their say on footpaths in the region, as part of the Pathways to the future program.

Mayor Firth says the aim of the program deliver safe, shared path spaces for all pedestrian, cyclists and scooter riders.


Campaspe Shire Council have held a meeting discussing the Municipal Early Years plan. 

The strategy is aiming to outline Council’s role in children’s growth and development, giving a strategic direction for the development and coordination of early years’ programs, activities and community development processes. 

The mission statement: ‘The Shire of Campaspe is a place where children are supported to reach their full potential’, underpinned by four key goals.

These include giving children the best possible start, providing high quality sustainable services and infrastructure, supporting vulnerable children, and providing family-friendly places.


In Goulburn Valley Netball we’re back to a normal weekend of play, games taking place across the region.

It’ll be a big game in Shepparton, crosstown rivals the Sheep Swans and Shepparton doing battle.

Other big matches will see Kyabram host Seymour, Shepp United face Mooroopna and Benalla at home to Mansfield.

Meantime Echuca come up against Rochester in what should be a close contest, and it’s Euroa versus Tatura at the Memorial Oval.