Out of road: driverless vehicles and the end of the trucker

30 Mar 2017   Electric Cars

Ramona Saucedo has been on the road for nearly two months, and she’s ready to get back home. Standing in front of a dusty white truck in the parking lot of a Flying J truck stop, she fingers her iPhone as she waits for a call from her business partner, who is checking on her progress. If she stays on schedule, driving 10 or 11 hours a day, she’ll be back home in Tucson next week. “I miss cooking my own meals, believe it or not,” she says with a chuckle.  At 52, Saucedo has been driving long-haul for nearly a decade, and has the heavy-set build that comes from long hours on the road. It’s a job that runs in the family: her father, brother and son were all truck drivers, and Saucedo says she started driving mainly for the pay. At her old job as an office worker she could barely make ends meet, and had to scrape and scrounge if one of her two children needed a little cash. Now, she drives thousands of miles a week and travels all over the country, sleeping each night inside the truck. Money is no longer a problem.  At the truck stop, Saucedo is surrounded by hundreds of drivers who have made similar trade-offs. The United States has more than three million truck drivers, many of whom drive long-haul, or “over the road” as it’s known in the business. As one of the highest paying jobs available that does not require a college degree, trucking can be an economic lifeline. But its future is increasingly uncertain.

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