Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Amazon Delivery Drivers Really Are Worse than Others

Their drivers are more than twice as likely to receive unsafe driving scores as other companies

September 29, 2022, Los Angeles, CA - Amazon's quest to sell all things to all people has a catastrophic carryover -- over 75 dead and scores injured by unsafe trucking contractors. Truckers moving Amazon goods around the country were more than twice as likely to receive unsafe driving scores compared with similar outfits. The investigative article by The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Weaver analyzes Amazon's push for prompt deliveries and the ongoing fallout of injuries and deaths.

The WSJ identifies many shocking incidents, including a driver convicted of driving while high when a crack pipe was found after he ran into a ditch, and a fatal accident in Kansas when a driver lost control while braking -- two months after his employer ignored a police order to fix the truck's brakes.

Trucking companies hauling freight for Amazon have been involved in crashes that killed more than 75 people since 2015, according to the Journal's review, adding Amazon "offers condolences to families of people killed in crashes that involve its contractors."

The WSJ identified a group of 3,512 trucking firms that were inspected three or more times -- for both routine and law-enforcement reasons -- while working for Amazon between February 2020 and early August 2022. In the Amazon group, 39% of contractors scored above a level set by the DOT to trigger regulatory action in at least one month in the analysis. That compared with about 17% among a peer group of all other for-hire general freight companies with a similar number of inspections.

The data show companies that "frequently haul Amazon's freight are systematically more likely to have poor driving safety scores," said Jason Miller, a Michigan State University professor who studies transportation safety and validated the Journal's methodology and findings. The result, he said, is that "American motorists are put at greater risk."

The Journal found evidence in the government records that 48 companies with conditional ratings hauled Amazon trailers since early 2020, apparently violating Amazon's own rules. Government data reviewed by the Journal show that 375 companies hauled Amazon freight with scores worse than Amazon requires even after the company changed its rules. That includes more than 60 with worse-than-required scores in February that were still hauling Amazon trailers in June and July.

In its freight network, Amazon closely tracks on-time delivery performance, according to former executives and drivers who have worked for Amazon. Trucking contractors with strong on-time records get rewarded with priority access to book certain loads. Contractors that missed delivery deadlines and other performance measures were punished with quick suspensions, several truckers said.

In contrast, truck operators such as United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) keep such serious safety violations low. Since early 2020, state inspectors and police cited UPS for tractor-trailer drivers who kept false logs of driving hours in fewer than one in a thousand inspections. By contrast, they flagged Amazon contractors at a rate about 70 times higher. UPS drivers are employees who receive salaries rather than contractors who often are paid by the mile.

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