Employment Trends Logistics

Truckers vs. Uber: Who Has The Edge?

Written by Miranda Pennington

Over at CareersInGear.com, trucking experts are examining the rising domination of Uber and wondering what the implications are for the trucking industry.

First off, what is Uber? It’s a self-employed taxi service where drivers register their own vehicles and riders can book cars, negotiate rates, and leave reviews. Drivers get to review passengers too, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to behave professionally. The positives are easy access door-to-door service; the major con, according to critics, is the service’s predatory effect on cab drivers and professional limo operators.

On the surface, it would seem like off-duty truckers could make some easy money by becoming Uber drivers on the side. One, it would be easier to connect with dispatchers and customers since Uber is available on smartphones; and two, drivers wouldn’t have to wait to be hired. But the potential risks may outweigh those rewards—you wouldn’t have to be a seasoned truck driver to book rides on Uber, which could result in less experienced drivers finding themselves in dangerous situations or hurting the reputations of drivers who are properly licensed.

There is currently no way to verify that your driver even has a license on Uber—much less to ascertain they have a DOT-approved CDL or the relevant endorsements. There would also need to be tracking systems, a paper trail to enforce existing regulations, and mechanisms to ensure drivers’ safety.

And let’s not forget, truckers already have Uber-like systems that allow drivers to book hauls online, customers to track deliveries, and dispatchers to set up and distribute jobs. Until Uber can provide something more than a risky opportunity for independent drivers seeking to line up their own work, it doesn’t have much to offer the already in-demand trucking industry.

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.