Will Self-Driving Cars Impact Change The Way You Work?

What would you do if a major aspect of your job was automated or outsourced? I used to think about this when I visited my family in Fall River, Massachusetts.

An industrial pendulum swing rocked the labor market in Fall River after World War II. From the late 19th century until World War II, Fall River was a leader in the U.S. textile trade, with 120 textile mills that employed about 30,000 workers, most of whom were young women and girls. Fall River payrolls were among the highest in the US, even during the great depression.  But competition and globalization swung the pendulum hard in the opposite direction.

In the span of 10-20 years, all of Fall River’s mills shut down, losing to southern competition and overseas outsourcing where labor costs were much lower. The US textile industry dried up overnight and the “Spindle City”, as it was known, never fully recovered. Jobs at the mills were eliminated and the mills shut down. The last mill shut down in 1960 and Fall River’s once vibrant economy has never quite recovered.

For those that lost their jobs, the need for workforce development, retraining and education became quite evident. It stands as a reminder of the importance of keeping our skills relevant and up to date. Continuous learning and career readiness help to insulate us from the impact automation can have in our careers and lives.

Will autonomous driving vehicles have a similar impact on the labor market in the US and around the world? It’s not science fiction anymore. Self-driving cars are already being tested successfully on the road today. Google X, Delphi, Mobileye and major auto manufacturers are expected to introduce fully autonomous vehicles to the market as early as 2019. Auto manufacturers and major fleet operators are watching the advancements closely and have much to gain from the new technology which will  boost productivity and  reduced labor costs, liability expenses and insurance costs.

Where Will The Impact Be Felt?

Anyone that drives a vehicle as part of their job should be thinking about the impact that self-driving vehicles might have on their job, the company they work for and their industry overall. Anyone that drives a car, truck or heavy machinery as part of their job will likely be impacted in some way.

Taxi drivers, trucking companies, industrial equipment operators, mining employees operating heavy machinery, shuttle drivers at hotels and airports, and medical transportation companies will be impacted. So will driving schools, auto mechanics, tour operators, auto insurance companies, postal workers and garbage truck drivers. Autonomous vehicles will change the way business gets done.

While it’s difficult to predict if the overall number of vehicles on the road will change but the way we view driving will certainly change. Drivers will become “operators”, overseeing the computer, camera and lidar systems that self-driving cars rely on to operate safely.

A study by Mckinsey & Co. predicts that self-driving cars will reduce the number of accidents on the road caused by human error behind the wheel by up to 90%, saving up to $190 Billion in damages and health related costs.  Auto insurance companies would have to address risk management models and the way they price insurance premiums. Fewer accidents and safer driving should mean lower insurance premiums, less work for auto mechanics, and reduced costs for fleet operators and consumers alike.  

Car Sharing Models impact on Driving and Car Ownership

Enterprise Rent-A-Car has already introduced car sharing services around the country in select cities and on college campuses for faculty, staff and students. These car sharing services cover liability and damage protection. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee is among the universities partnering with Enterprise to offer car sharing services on campus as a way to cut down on congestion and parking challenges on campus.

Car sharing concepts are gaining popularity in cities and on college campuses around the country. Commercial fleets and rental car companies will likely make the first significant investments in self-driving cars. Millenials tend to be comfortable with ride-sharing and car sharing models and will likely lead the way in the adoption and use of car sharing services and use of self-driving car technology.

Cities battling congestion, traffic and pollution should view self-driving cars and car sharing as a smart way to reduce gridlock, pollution and parking constraints that are a result of having too many cars on the road.

Anticipating The Change

The writing is on the wall. The way companies manage their fleets and the way consumers view car ownership will change over the next 10-20 years and these changes are sure to impact the way we work and live.

Some jobs will be eliminated and some will be created as a result of the changes though it’s difficult to predict how fast the changes will be felt. It is clear, however, that anyone who operates a vehicle as part their job should be thinking about developing new skills and preparing themselves for changes in their job description. For some, autonomous vehicles may completely eliminate their role. For others, it could be a boon to their productivity and add new convenience to their job.

In my last position as a Sales Executive, I was on the road a majority of the work week visiting clients and often worked out of my car. A self-driving car would have made it possible for me to work and respond to clients and colleagues while traveling from client to client instead of waiting until the evening or early the next morning to reply. I would have been more productive during the work day.

How Will Self-Driving Cars Impact You?

Crafted Career Concepts is a career consulting boutique that helps high achieving professionals manage career advancement and transitions. Through workshops and personalized consulting, we help individuals connect their passion to their paycheck and manager positive transitions in there work and personal lives.