Driverless Technology : Are HGV Drivers at Risk?

It is predicted that by 2025, self-driving vehicles will be legal on UK roads. HGV’s, buses and other larger vehicles are included in this figure, leaving those part of the industry fearful for the security of their jobs. 

A driverless van or HGV is a heavy goods vehicle that has the adequate technology to operate safely without any human input. Essentially, the van can work autonomously and transport goods without a trained driver. There will no longer be a need for HGV drivers or lorry drivers alike.  

This article will explore the forecast of self-driving vehicles and the advantages and disadvantages of the technology being implemented nationally. Are HGV drivers at risk? Let’s find out.

How does driverless technology work?

Driverless technology was first created by Norman Bel Geddes in 1939 at a GM exhibit. The vehicle he designed was the first self-driving car, an electric vehicle guided by radio-controlled electromagnetic fields. 

Since that time, autonomous vehicles have come a long way and now we have larger goods vehicles that are able to operate on their own. Nowadays, driverless vehicles use radar, LIDAR, GPS, odometry and computer vision technology for safe and autonomous navigation. 

All of these systems work in conjunction with one another to help the car find the correct navigation path and to avoid obstacles and other road hazards.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of driverless technology?

The advantages and disadvantages of driverless technology are clear and are still up for discussion today. But, as it stands, these are the most important benefits and drawbacks of autonomous vehicles :

Advantages  Disadvantages 
Less traffic collisions

It is predicted that driverless technology could significantly reduce the amount of traffic accidents on the roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94% of accidents on US roads occur due to human error. By this logic, having driverless technology could massively reduce accidents.

Unsuitable for the current roads 

UK and American roads are not currently optimised for driverless technology, as it is still emerging onto the scene. It is still very much a work in progress and in its early phases, making it a risky venture early on.

Cheaper to operate 

The long-term costs of autonomous vehicles such as HGVs are likely to be a fair bit cheaper to operate than regular automobiles. Increased fuel efficiency, cheaper insurance and no fines are all things that contribute to the cheaper operational costs of autonomous vehicles. These could save businesses a lot of money in the long run. 


How many times have you had your Facebook hacked? Or your computer? Well, driverless technology systems are effectively just vehicle computers. This means that they are still at a risk of being hacked or controlled by anyone who has to know how. 

Additionally, we all hook up our phones to bluetooth, giving the potential hacker even more ways to get into your car’s system.

More efficient navigation 

No longer will drivers have to sit and plan their route intensely, considering all the various road features that could impact their trip. With autonomous vehicles, the computer system would do the navigation for itself, much like a Satnav.

Computer malfunctions 

Like all technology, driverless cars have every chance to glitch and stop working at any moment. It is this level of uncertainty that creates an uneasiness towards the technology. 

In particular, the current issue with self-driving cars is getting them to operate safely in all weather conditions. This is something that engineers are struggling greatly with and continue to develop. 

Increased productivity 

When transporting goods in a truck or HGV, you want your journey to be as quick as possible. This is vital to workplace efficiency and driverless technology stands to improve this. 

By calculating the best route using its computer, you will have a much more effective journey both time and monetary wise. This allows for quicker transportation of more goods and could have an effect on your workload.

What has the public reaction been to driverless technology?

The public reaction to driverless technology has been somewhat mixed. A 2019 poll found that 71% of U.S drivers would be afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle. This is of course, a large majority. 

When looking at the public reaction data, it is important to remember that the technology is new, making scepticism a normal reaction to the vehicles.   

So, are HGV drivers at risk?

It is hard to answer this question until we see the full rollout of driverless technology. However, an obvious decrease in HGV driver jobs is coming. But, some jobs will be created in the process. 

There is a tremendous loss in HGV driver jobs. In fact, it is predicted that 4 million jobs could be lost to autonomous vehicles. This creates fears for workers without a university/college degree who are dependent on driver jobs to earn a living. 

On the other hand, the government has said that it hopes to create 34,000 jobs through autonomous vehicles. Whether they have considered the tremendous loss of working-class families remains a mystery.

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