One huge potential consequence of driverless cars is the loss of jobs for some Americans. Estimates suggest that there are around 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the U.S. If each of these drivers were replaced by automated technology, that would leave many workers, who may not have the training for other positions, unemployed. Moreover, this 3.5 million estimate accounts only for commercial truck drivers, leaving out the countless other people who make their living driving.
The ripple effects of the loss of truck drivers will be substantial. We will still need gas stations – but the sales of food and drink at those stations will likely decline because of a decline in drivers. That issue will be greater at truck stops, which are used by truck drivers not only as places to acquire fuel, food and drink, but also a myriad of personal goods.
Another employment sector that could be affected is car manufacturers. Some analysts predict that self-driving cars will lead to a decrease in the overall number of vehicles needed/owned in America (see an explanation of this under Benefits). If the demand for vehicles decreases in volume, this could lead to layoffs in car manufacturing plants. In fact, one estimate suggests that if self-driving technology is successful, General Motors and Ford Motor Co. could be forced to close 13 of their 30 assembly plants located in the U.S. and Canada in the next 25 years, putting around 25,000 workers out of their jobs.