The Cities & States Most Threatened by Self-Driving Vehicles

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Updated 11/6/2023

Self-driving vehicles have taken center stage in recent years, with Tesla pioneering "no-hands-driving," and a wave of startups securing enormous funding rounds. The promise of a future filled with autonomous vehicles is captivating, but it comes with a slew of concerns, particularly on the employment front.

In response to the fast-paced changes in the world of transportation, organizations like the Teamsters Union and the California Labor Federation have been instrumental in advocating for new legislation. This proposed legislation in California seeks to mandate human operators in autonomous vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds (primarily citing safety concerns over truck accidents). Similar efforts have been initiated at the national level, highlighting the pressing need to address the employment consequences of self-driving technology.

The legal ramifications of self-driving cars are still developing. Numerous companies stand to profit from this technological shift, but it could also mean job displacement for over 4.26 million drivers – 3.5 million of which are truck drivers.

Notably, driving is not only one of the most common occupations in the country but also one of the more financially rewarding career options for those without a college degree.

Driving a motor vehicle is not only a widespread occupation but also a financially lucrative one. The potential loss of these jobs could have far-reaching consequences, especially for individuals seeking similar-paying job opportunities.

Related: Compare Commercial Truck Insurance

To understand which areas across the country are most threatened by self-driving vehicles, used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the following statistics for each geography:

  • Labor Force Impact: The number of drivers compared to all employees, to provide insight into the prevalence of driving-related occupations.
  • Employment Impact: The total number of drivers, to shed light on the scale of potential job displacement.
  • Wage Impact: The cumulative wages paid to drivers, to reflect the economic implications of automation.
  • Median Driver Income: The typical earnings of drivers, to show the average income potentially at risk.

While North Dakota, Wyoming, and Arkansas face the biggest labor force impact as they have the most drivers relative to other occupations in their respective states, California, Texas, and Florida, have the most jobs threatened by autonomous vehicles.

As self-driving technology reshapes the transportation landscape, understanding its impact on our workforce and economy becomes paramount. The data presented here underscores the significance of this issue, particularly for regions heavily reliant on driving occupations. It is a topic that will undoubtedly shape the future of work in America.

Full Methodology

To determine which geographies were most threatened by self-driving vehicles, analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The analysis focused on seven occupations most threatened by autonomous driving. These occupations included:

  • Drivers/Sales Workers 
  • Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
  • Light Truck Drivers
  • Bus Drivers, School
  • Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity
  • Shuttle Drivers and Chauffeurs
  • Taxi Drivers

To calculate the labor force impact, researchers divided the total number of drivers in the above occupations by the total number of workers for a given geographic area. Total employment and wage figures were similarly focused on the occupations above.

Metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population:

  • Small metros: Less than 350,000
  • Midsize metros: 350,000–999,999
  • Large metros: 1,000,000 or more
About the Author
Kyle Fretwell of
Kyle Fretwell has worked as a researcher and data journalist for over a decade. His work has appeared in publications such as Bloomberg, Fox Business, MSN, USA Today, CNBC, and the Houston Chronicle.

He now manages's content team and is a regular fixture at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.

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