Many consumers associate the Amazon brand with convenience, efficiency, and affordability. The company has cemented its status as an indispensable part of customers’ lives by offering just about every product under the sun, as well as services such as same-day and next-day delivery. However, that convenience comes at a cost, and in regard to Amazon’s delivery network, that cost is the safety of our roadways.
In response to a piece published by Car and Driver criticizing the company’s infamous speed-over-safety approach, a representative of Amazon stated, “We hold all of our delivery partners, including third-party carriers, delivery service partners, and Amazon Flex participants, to high standards.” But attempting to pin the company down on specifics relating to its driver training policies tends to lead to more questions than answers.
What we do know for certain is the way that Amazon operates its logistics apparatus presents inherent risks and largely shields the company from legal liability. Here are a few factors that could make sharing the road with Amazon delivery drivers more dangerous.
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Outsourcing to Independent Contractors Means Lack of Oversight
Whether Amazon offers delivery driving training should be a simple yes or no question, but in order to answer it, we must first define the term “Amazon driver.” Within the past few years, Amazon has drastically cut down outsourcing of deliveries to established companies like FedEx and UPS, which are subjected to strict Department of Transportation regulations. Instead, Amazon started its own branded delivery services and began partnering with local contractors to handle a sizable portion of its deliveries. Those contractors are technically self-employed, which means they are responsible for maintaining their own vehicles, screening employees, and obtaining insurance coverage.
The result of Amazon partnering with so many independent delivery companies is that there are very few across-the-board standards and little oversight to guarantee that the existing standards are being met. What’s more, the independent contractors are on the hook for any legal liability resulting from an accident even though they are transporting goods on behalf of Amazon.
High Delivery Quotas Can Lead to Carelessness and Rule-Breaking
The reason Amazon initially began creating its own logistics infrastructure was to enable lightning-fast deliveries. As much as every company would love to make one- and two-day deliveries happen for its customers, there’s a justification for Amazon leaving them all in the dust: it’s not easy. It requires back-breaking delivery schedules that give drivers and their supervisors almost no choice but to flout the rules.
It also requires a commitment to expediency over adequate driver training; according to a report by ProPublica and Buzzfeed, Amazon ultimately decided that a proposed five-day training course for drivers was too much of a “bottleneck” and would keep drivers off the road.
In addition to insufficient driver training, here are a few of the other implications of foisting an extremely demanding workload onto delivery personnel.
- Inconsistent background checks. Supervisors and hiring managers need to get drivers on the road to keep up with demand, even if that means failing to perform proper background checks or ignoring the results.
- Poorly maintained trucks and vans. Amazon drivers have described making deliveries in vehicles with bald tires and faulty brakes. Once again, Amazon is not technically responsible for the maintenance of third-party vehicles, but considering Amazon could easily choose whom to work with and set standards for its contractors, such accounts demonstrate a lack of leadership.
- Insufficient breaks. Amazon drivers have described speeding, driving straight past stop signs, skipping meals, and even urinating in bottles to keep up with their demanding delivery schedules. Reckless driving and fatigue are two of the most common causes of commercial vehicle accidents — and feeling rushed and working long hours inevitably lead to both.
Why Hire an Austin Truck Accident Lawyer?
If you were injured in a car accident caused by an Amazon delivery driver, you may have grounds to pursue a personal injury claim. An Austin truck accident lawyer can help you obtain financial recovery for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses that resulted from the accident.
Commercial vehicle accidents can be complicated as it is, and Amazon’s complex network of delivery partners and the confusing chain of command can complicate matters further. Neither the third-party delivery company nor Amazon is going to want to take responsibility for the accident, and each will do everything in its power to avoid being held liable. Your lawyer will work to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident and seek to hold the appropriate party accountable. They will communicate with insurance providers on your behalf and make sure you are receiving adequate medical care so that you are in the best position to make a full recovery.
At FVF, our experienced Austin truck accident lawyers want to educate accident victims on their rights and options. We offer free, no-commitment case consultations so that you feel equipped with the knowledge to move forward with your case and seek the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free, remote consultation.