Lorry drivers’ union Unite questioned whether platoons of self-driving lorries were a realistic and safe option for Britain’s congested and cramped roads today (Friday 25 August), warning that it should not be used as an excuse to cut jobs and wages.
Responding to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) announcement that it was spending over £8 million trialling wirelessly connected lorries travelling in convoy on Britain’s motorways, Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “The crowded and cramped roads of Britain are a far cry from the long straight highways of the US and Europe where the 'platooning' of lorries has been tested.
“While Unite isn't against the use of technology that makes our members' jobs easier, it should not come at the cost of jobs and wages of highly skilled lorry drivers.
“It remains to be seen whether wireless convoys of lorries are actually a realistic option in the UK.
“As well as major issues around safety, there's a whole host of practical issues such as the order of a convoy where different hauliers are involved.
“No haulier will want its lorry at the front of a convoy for too long, but instead in the middle where their lorry will use less fuel than their competitors.
“It is vital that the Department for Transport engages with Unite and listens to the views and concerns of lorry drivers in the testing of this technology.
“We would also call on the department to invest in roadside facilities for lorry drivers. Some of the facilities lorry drivers have to rest up in quite frankly shame Britain’s roads.
“If the DfT can invest over £8 million in driverless technology it can invest in decent roadside facilities for Britain’s truckers.”
Up to three wirelessly connected HGVs will travel in convoy, with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle, under trials announced by the DfT today.
Similar trials have already been carried out elsewhere in Europe and in the US but motoring experts questioned the suitability of self-driving lorries in the UK.
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.