There are currently 100,000 long haul trucker positions open because no one wants them. The average trucker spends 8 hours a day on the road making minute adjustments to a steering wheel, trying to stay awake. Families are really hard to keep together when the trucker is on the road. The unhealthy and alone lifestyle isn’t for many people.
I don’t agree that driverless technology will decimate small towns. In the 1910's, my city used to stretch for 30 blocks, to the end of of the street car lines. When the automobile came around, suddenly it was almost 200 blocks. The increase in mobility for a driverless car will eventually mean the end of traffic jams and the raising of speed limits. This means anything within 100 miles of a large city is now available for daily commute, including many small towns.
The average American spends 50% of their income on two things: housing and transportation. Not having to purchase a $30k depreciating asset and instead taking a driverless taxi for a few cents a mile will be a big pay raise for the average American.
Housing expenses will be reduced as well. When we factor in turning parking lots into usable land and extending (doubling?) the land available for housing to 100 miles of every city, we suddenly see that driverless cars might be the largest pay raise the average American has seen. That’s before we even get into reduction in health care needs and the cost of shipping goods.
The tractor took farming from 80% of the population down to 3%. The automated telephone switchboard replaced almost half of the nation’s working women. The refrigerator fired thousands of milk men and ice men. We’ve gone through this before several times and we’ve come out better each time.