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Why Amazon Delivery Drivers Face Higher Injury Risks Than Other Delivery Drivers

Higher Risks & Few Protections Cause a Lot of Amazon Driver Injuries

Delivery driving can be inherently risky, but Amazon delivery drivers may have one of the most dangerous positions in the courier and delivery industry. That’s because the latest reports reveal that Amazon delivery drivers are at least two times more likely to get hurt on the job than delivery drivers for other companies.

Here’s why and how Amazon has been linked to these risks.

Why Do Amazon Delivery Drivers Have Such High Risks & Injury Rates?

Amazon Driver Injuries - Amazon Accident LawyerAmazon has set up certain requirements and protocols for its delivery drivers, including its driver service partners (DSPs) and Amazon Flex drivers. These rules and systems involve:

  • Shockingly high quotas
  • Set delivery routes and schedules
  • Tracking devices and real-time monitoring of drivers, with the threat of “infractions” and penalties (like losing bonuses)

At the same time, Amazon delivery drivers have very little ability to rework their schedules or even question infractions and quotas. That has established “unsafe working conditions,” according to some watchdogs. It has also created an environment in which:

  • Amazon delivery drivers feel like they have to break the rules of the road just to keep up with unmanageable quotas and unforgiving schedules.

  • Under pressure, Amazon delivery drivers are rushing to get out of their vehicles and get packages to doors, increasing the risks of falls and other accidents outside of their delivery trucks.

  • Amazon delivery drivers are independent contractors, leaving them vulnerable to whatever rules, schedules, and quotas that Amazon sets without providing sufficient, if any, protections in the process. In fact, industry watchdogs have called Amazon out for configuring “its operations to insulate itself from responsibility for these workers’ safety.”

With these risks and little to mitigate them, Amazon delivery drivers have reportedly suffered more injuries than delivery drivers for any other company. In fact, the latest findings indicate that:

  • About 20% — or roughly 1 in 5 — Amazon DSPs are hurt on the job in a given year.

  • Amazon delivery driver injuries have increased by nearly 40% since 2020.

  • Some DSPs have reportedly experienced even higher injury rates, despite the fact that Amazon claims to have spent about $1 billion on safety initiatives from 2019 to 2022.

Amazon Injury Risks & Delivery Quotas

AmazonDrivers are expected to meet quotas that Amazon sets, and these quotas can be exceptionally high, pushing drivers to the brink. That’s because some quotas have been as high as 400 deliveries in a single day. That sets the bar sky-high while:

  • Preventing drivers from being able to take breaks

  • Pushing drivers to cut corners and work as fast as possible

  • Providing little leeway to change gears as circumstances change

  • Forcing some to work 10 hours or more straight to complete hundreds of deliveries in a single shift

That’s why one report called out Amazon’s “sky-high production pressure and delivery quotas which push Amazon workers to work too fast and [delivery service partner] drivers to risk injury as they rush to hit delivery targets.”

Amazon Limits Drivers’ Ability to Avoid Risk

Amazon delivery drivers have to use certain tools and apps while they drive. These systems, like Rabbit, are supposed to promote safety and set routes for drivers to facilitate their deliveries. In practice, however, the opposite can happen, with this technology being intrusive, making mistakes, and negating drivers’ abilities to make on-the-fly choices whenever circumstances on the roads change.

That can mean forcing drivers to stick to routes where crashes have occurred, highway works zones are set up, and/or other hazards may be present.

Amazon Monitors Drivers in Real Time

Amazon’s Mentor scores driver performance while doling out “infractions” for unsafe behaviors. Monitoring drivers with an AI-powered camera, Mentor is supposed to improve drivers’ safety performance on the roads while tracking bad behaviors. In practice, however, Mentor has been reported to make mistakes, experience bugs, and wrongly hand out infractions.

That’s created another layer of pressure on Amazon DSPs, with some looking for ways to dodge oversight, even if it means taking on more risk in the process.

How Amazon Dodges Liability for Delivery Drivers

Amazon doesn’t hire DSPs as employees. In doing that, Amazon has created a liability shield of sorts. This “relationship” was very likely strategic and intentional because it lets Amazon:

  • Shift liability for delivery drivers onto the DSPs: Delivery service partners are the small companies that employ delivery drivers who drop off Amazon packages. Currently, at least 1,700 DSPs are working with Amazon. With this setup, delivery drivers are DSP employees, not Amazon’s employees. So, the DSP would be liable for accidents or injuries involving the delivery drivers, not Amazon.

  • Exclude DSP driver injuries from its injury reporting data: Because DSP drivers are not classified as employees, Amazon omits them from its injury reports. Again, this responsibility falls on the DSP employer, not Amazon. That has added “insult to injury,” according to industry watchdogs because they say that “Amazon has made repeated public claims about injury rates in its delivery operations as if half of the workers who perform this work simply do not exist, misleading its workers, shareholders, and the public about the true dangers that Amazon’s operations create in communities across the nation.”

Despite this framework, it’s crucial to point out that:

  • Amazon arguably exerts an employer-type of control over its drivers: Setting schedules and controlling drivers’ time down to the very minute is not generally characteristic of an independent contractor relationship. Instead, there’s room to argue that this level of control puts the relationship between Amazon and its drivers more in the realm of employer-employee relationship. That’s important because it suggests that Amazon wants it both ways — the company wants the independent contractor relationship to limit its liability, but it also wants the employee relationship in terms of control and managing productivity.

  • Not all “independent contractor” classifications are correct: Just because drivers are classified as independent contractors does mean that the company got the classification correct. In fact, many will intentionally misclassify workers to try to limit liability, the need for workers’ compensation, etc. That’s important because there may be room to argue that Amazon could share some liability for DSP accidents and injuries.

  • Amazon may still be liable: Classifications and protocols won’t necessarily shield Amazon from liability if dangerous policies cause accidents, injuries, or death. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to make Amazon pay for its oversights, failures, and negligence.

What Can Increase Amazon Delivery Drivers’ Risks on the Roads

Quotas, routes, and tracking devices aren’t the only factors that may be turning up the pressure on Amazon delivery drivers. Contributing to these pressures and the risks that come with them can be the delivery service partners themselves. These employers, also facing pressure to meet Amazon quotas, may tell their employee drivers to do risky things and cut corners as follows.

1. DSPs tell drivers to keep Mentor on for just part of their shift.

Some delivery service providers are ordering their drivers to keep Amazon’s tracking app, Mentor, on when they start their deliveries. With the app on and monitoring them, drivers are ordered to:

  1. Be extra careful.

  2. Follow all traffic laws.

  3. Be on their best behavior.

  4. Exhibit the best possible driving behaviors.

  5. Follow the app’s directions.  

2. DSPs instruct drivers to turn Mentor off after a few hours or so.

Some DSPs are trying to game the system by telling drivers to disable Mentor after driving for a bit, so they can break the rules to make their deliveries and hit their targets.

3. DSPs pressure drivers to finish shifts in under 10 hours.

DSPs can get bonuses for quick completions of deliveries, and that’s motivating some to turn up the heat on their drivers. In fact, some DSPs are:

  • Pushing their drivers to complete shifts in as little as 7 hours

  • Sending text messages to drivers, telling them they are taking too long or pushing them to go faster

  • Constantly leaning on drivers to do more and go faster, so they can pocket those bonuses.

4. DSPs may discourage reporting vehicle damage.

Damaged vehicles can be grounded, which means no deliveries — and, in some cases, losing routes. More and more DSPs are looking to avoid those setbacks, and that’s led some to tell their drivers to not report vehicle damage to Amazon.  

In some cases, that’s meant withholding vehicle damage reports regarding issues like (but not limited to):

  • Broken doors
  • Tire damage
  • Water leaks

With this type of damage not reported to Amazon, it usually doesn’t get fixed either. In turn, some DSPs also overlook basic vehicle maintenance, putting off oil changes, fluid checks, and more. That’s meant that:

  • Some Amazon delivery drivers are operating riskier vehicles.

  • There can be a greater risk of vehicle equipment failures, like tire blowouts and brake failures, with these unrepaired and poorly maintained Amazon delivery trucks.

  • If delivery drivers are speeding or operating a vehicle recklessly because they’re trying to meet quotas (or because their DSP employer is telling them to do so), the accident risks can increase even more.

When Amazon Delivery Driver Risks Cause Accidents & Injuries

Far too often, extreme quotas, back-breaking schedules, and other factors cause real risks and serious accidents that hurt Amazon delivery drivers and others. When that happens, figuring out exactly what caused the accident can be key to understanding who may be liable and the options for seeking justice.