Road transport companies optimistic about automation and potential to improve safety

In the face of ‘geopolitical and economic uncertainty’, technology-driven innovation will be key to meeting the challenges of tomorrow in the European road transport sector, according to a new global survey.

The global ‘snapshot survey’ is based on interviews with 450 transport companies, including 175 from eight European countries – France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, the UK, Poland and Romania.

The survey has been published by IRU (international Road Transport Union) which has members and a presence in more than 100 countries.

Nearly one in three (31%) of the European transport companies in the survey believe that improving safety will be the ‘biggest innovation opportunity’ (a feeling mirrored by their peers across the world), while one in five cite automation.

The survey suggests that transport companies are ‘extremely optimistic’ about the timescales for automation, with nearly three quarters (71%) of those surveyed expecting autonomous trucks to become a viable option within the next decade. Of these, 21% believe they will be a reality in the next five years.

Boris Blanche, IRU’s managing director, said: “There is no question that autonomous trucks will eventually be transformative for the industry – helping boost productivity, create efficiencies and enhance driver working conditions.

“But drivers will not become obsolete any time in the future, and in fact the industry must continue to encourage more drivers into the profession.

“Proper and responsible adoption over time is required, and we must see full cooperation from all industry stakeholders.”

The findings also reveal that with Brexit negotiations on-going, more than half (57%) of European transport companies see ‘geopolitical uncertainty’ as the biggest threat facing the road transport sector.

The survey results were published ahead of the IRU World Congress, a new global event for transport, logistics and mobility which was held last week in Muscat, Oman (6-8 Nov).

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