According to the IAE World Energy Outlook 2012, some 1.7 billion vehicles are expected to be on the roads in 2035 and the 2012 Transport Outlook of the OECD's International Transport Forum forecasts that the number of cars worldwide could reach 2,5 billion by 2050.
So far motor vehicles have to be operated by licensed human drivers. In 2011, there were nearly 210 million licensed drivers and 242 million vehicles in the United States. An estimated 60% of the European Union’s population holds a valid driving licence, around 300 million citizens.
|Credit: U.S. DOT|
Vehicle driving accidentsThe cost of human driving is high including the risks and effects of traffic accidents. Worldwide it was estimated in 2004 that 1.2 million people were killed (2.2% of all deaths) and 50 million more were injured in motor vehicle collisions. India recorded 105,000 traffic deaths in a year, followed by China with over 96,000 deaths.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) motor vehicle crashes killed more than 33,000 people and injured over 2.2 million others in the U.S. in 2009. In 2011, 32,310 people died in motor vehicle crashes, down 1.7 percent from 2010.
Economic costs of motor vehicle accidents: $500 billionThe global economic cost of motor vehicle accidents was estimated at $518 billion per year in 2003 with $100 billion of that occurring in developing countries.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in 2010 that the cost of medical care and productivity losses associated with motor vehicle crash injuries was over $99 billion, or nearly $500, for each licensed driver in the U.S.. Based on data from 2005, every 10 seconds an American is treated in an emergency department for crash-related injuries.
Over 95% of motor vehicle accidents involve some degree of driver behavior, usually the primary cause. Most accidents are caused by excessive speed or aggressive driver behavior. According to Mark Edwards, director of Traffic Safety at the American Automobile Association somewhere between 25-50 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the USA have driver distraction as their root cause.
According to FBI data over 1.41 million drivers were arrested in 2010 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
U.S. professional driver costs: $ 122 billionThe total cost of wages of about 3,8 million professional drivers in the U.S. including truck drivers, delivery truck drivers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, subway and streetcar operators is about $ 122 billion, based on 2010 average wages. Replacing millions of human drivers by intelligent unmanned vehicles is a future vision driven by military and industry players to safe human life and operating costs.
A driverless future?The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) predicted that up to 75 per cent of cars on the road in 2040 will be of the driver-less variety. Beyond that, the group suggested that driving infrastructure and attitudes may change once autonomous cars become the norm.
|Credit: NHTSA, Connected vehicles|
Unmanned Truck Operators
|Credit: BLS, heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver|
|Delivery drivers and driver/sales workers|
One driving force for unmanned vehicles is the challenge to fill and even harder to keep filled truck driver positions in the U.S. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the demand for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is increasing, up from the 1,6 million truck drivers on the road in 2010.
Truck drivers wanted!
Employment is projected to grow 21 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. As the economy grows, the demand for goods will increase, and more truck drivers will be needed to keep supply chains moving. But despite a median pay in 2010 of $37,770 per year or $18.16 per hour, few people want to drive a truck, according to a CNN Money report July 2012. Cost for a commercial driver's license of about $6,000 and the long-haul trucker lifestyle are mentioned as the biggest hurdles.
Delivery Truck Drivers and Driver/Sales Workers
Another group with a physically demanding job are the 1,2 million delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers who pick up, transport, and drop off packages within a small region or urban area. Most of the time, they transport merchandise from a distribution center to businesses and households. When loading and unloading cargo, drivers do a lot of lifting, carrying, and walking. The median annual wage of light truck or delivery services drivers was $28,630 in May 2010.
Employment of light truck or delivery services drivers and driver/sales workers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Improved routing through GPS technology can make truck drivers more productive, which may limit the need for more drivers.
Bus- and taxi drivers
In the U.S. about 647,200 bus drivers and about 239,900 taxi drivers transport people between a variety of places including work, school, shopping, and across state borders.
Driving through heavy traffic or dealing with unruly passengers can be stressful for bus drivers. About 54 percent of all bus drivers worked full time in 2010, and 39 percent worked part time. The rest had variable schedules.
Driving for long periods of time, especially in heavy traffic, can be stressful for taxi drivers and chauffeurs. In 2010, 31 percent of taxi drivers and chauffeurs were self-employed. The median annual wage of taxi drivers and chauffeurs was $22,440 in May 2010
Employment of bus drivers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job opportunities should be favorable, especially for school bus drivers as school enrollment grows. Employment of taxi drivers and chauffeurs is projected to grow 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. This will be driven by an increase in public transport systems.