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Days of future passing lanes

I saw the movie Logan recently and was surprised to come away with something relevant to a current discussion happening in the trucking industry and some possible ROSES.

If you are unfamiliar with the film, it’s about the character Wolverine from the X-Men, played by Hugh Jackman. It takes place in the year 2029 (which sounds so distant and futuristic but is really just 12 short years away). I won’t spoil the plot details but the story involves an older and battered Wolverine (aka Logan) going on a cross-country journey with Professor X and a young girl.

At one point they are driving down a busy highway, which is populated by a surprising number of driverless trucks. These don’t look like autonomous trucks as we might think of them today. They don’t appear to have cabs at all. In fact, they looked more like intermodal containers with wheels and headlights rolling down the road.

Interestingly, an abrupt lane change by one of these “auto trucks” – as they are referred to by one of the characters – causes an accident that results in a pickup truck hauling a horse trailer going off the road. The horses break free and our grizzled hero is cajoled by Professor X into helping the family in the pickup.

The whole scene takes up maybe 10 minutes of the entire movie, but it presented a rather frightening possible future for our highways. Not a single human truck driver in sight. Mindless automatons were careening down the roads and not even slowing down when people or animals were in the way. They simply flashed their lights and honked their horns as a warning and continued along their predetermined path.

The thing is, having truckers behind the wheel might have changed the entire outcome of the movie. Logan’s interaction with the family in the pickup leads to another pivotal scene at their farm, which I won’t spoil here. Suffice it to say that had there been a trucker behind the wheel, either a) the abrupt lane change that caused the accident wouldn’t have happened in the first place or b) if it did happen the driver would likely have stopped to help, thus allowing Logan and company to continue on their way oblivious to the farm family and altering their ultimate destiny.

Maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Or maybe the filmmakers were really trying to say something. A scene not long after that one features the farmer commenting on the giant machines and corporate farms that have taken over all of the land surrounding his. So maybe I’m not so far off after all.

While the film does show a future without truck drivers, it doesn’t seem to be saying that’s a good idea. It’s definitely a conversation we all need to sink our claws into.

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