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The Annual Microlise Transport Conference is always a great place to talk to transport industry officials to find out what they’re thinking. This year’s event (2016) was no different, as evidenced by the post-conference report issued in late June. For us, the two most interesting highlights from the report are related to autonomous vehicles and the positive Brexit vote. In short, it doesn’t appear that HGV drivers have anything to worry about in the near future.

Thoughts on Autonomous Vehicles

Few things are dominating transport industry news these days more than the prospect of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles taking to the roads in place of traditional, manually-driven HGVs. It is just assumed that autonomy is inevitable. Well, it turns out that industry professionals do not necessarily agree.

More than 33% of the transport industry representatives at the conference don’t believe autonomous vehicles will work. The report goes on to say that the transport industry as a whole is not even sure the potential for autonomous vehicles exists, based on the belief that government support of the transport industry hasn’t changed much since the Conservatives took power.

Not surprisingly, 84% of industry representatives are less than enthusiastic about current levels of government support. They have no reason to believe that things will change just because everyone is now worked up about autonomous vehicles. Industry representatives simply do not believe the jobs of HGV drivers are endangered in any way by autonomy.

Support for the Leave Vote

The other aspect of the Microlise report worth noting is that support for the Brexit vote within the transport industry is in line with the numbers reported nationally. The majority favoured leave even though roughly 43% of those interviewed felt that separating from the EU would have a negative impact on the transport industry.

The upside of Brexit is that the UK transport industry should feel less regulatory pressure without having to worry about ever-expanding EU regulatory power. The industry is hopeful that our government will take the opportunity of being out of the EU to adjust our regulatory environment so it is more friendly to transport and haulage.

Our Impressions

Although we don’t have all of the details of the Microlise report, our initial impressions are that the transport industry remains fairly confident of the short-term future. Industry representatives seem to be satisfied with the Brexit vote and largely unconcerned about how autonomous vehicles will affect transport.

What the future holds in the long term no one can say for sure. But we do know that tens of thousands of HGV drivers are needed right now. That is the biggest concern for transport officials. Here at the HGV Training Centre, we share that concern. Our company was founded on a mission to help address the driver shortage by recruiting and training as many new PCV, LGV and HGV drivers as we can. We will continue to fulfil that mission for as long as the need exists.

Sources:

HGV UK – http://www.hgvuk.com/a-third-of-transport-professionals-think-autonomous-vehicles-wont-work-report-reveals/

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