In this age of convenience, many coveted items are a click away and take only a few days to arrive on our doorsteps. But that convenience comes with a heavy cost: the decreasing safety of our already dangerous roadways.
With countless fleet vehicles delivering millions of packages daily, occasional accidents are inevitable. But some companies take their responsibility to prevent accidents more seriously than others. Certain package delivery services prioritize speed over caution, increasingly pressuring their drivers to work long shifts, skip breaks, drive recklessly, and press on through fatigue in order to meet employer — and consumer — demands.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular delivery services and their reputation for traffic accidents.
If you read the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Safety Measurement System overview of Amazon Logistics LLC, you will see only 3 total crashes reported over 24 months of crash history. When you compare that to the 2,021 FedEx crashes and 2,388 UPS crashes from the same reporting period, you might reasonably conclude that Amazon is the most safety-conscious of the three delivery services.
But Amazon uses a network of third-party courier companies to deliver their packages, which means the companies delivering the packages — not Amazon — are typically held liable when their drivers cause accidents. A year-long investigation by Buzzfeed News revealed that many accidents involving drivers delivering Amazon packages go unattributed to the company for this reason. Amazon can choose to sever its contracts with these third parties, but in many cases, it continues working with them despite repeated safety issues and even criminal convictions.
Amazon used to deliver its packages via UPS and USPS, but has since decreased its reliance on these services by assembling its own fleets of these third-party delivery companies in order to fulfill promises of increasingly rapid turnaround times. Two-day shipping became one-day shipping, and now many of Amazon’s delivery drivers reportedly drop off upward of 250 packages per day. According to the same Buzzfeed report, the volume of packages that drivers must deliver for a flat fee often makes them feel pressured to drive recklessly, with some even reportedly driving with boxes stacked up on the dashboard, or without a seatbelt, so that deliveries can be made more quickly.
Whereas UPS and FedEx delivery vehicles must follow strict guidelines laid out by the Department of Transportation, the fleets of cargo vans operated by Amazon’s delivery partners are smaller and lighter, and are therefore not subject to the same regulations. Drivers of UPS trucks, for example, are subject to medical exams and controlled substance testing, and the vehicles must be regularly inspected.
Equally as important are the hours-of-service (HoS) regulations that set the number of hours that a commercial driver can spend behind the wheel without taking a substantial break. The sprinter-style vans used by Amazon’s delivery partners are not subject to HoS regulations.
All of this amounts to a culture of recklessness for the sake of expediency, with insufficient central oversight and accountability. However, Amazon is investing millions of dollars in safety improvement projects and recently began severing ties with some of its small delivery companies in order to better meet the company’s “high standards of safety and working conditions.”
Amazon does not operate in a vacuum; traditional logistics companies like FedEx and UPS are forced to compete with its breakneck speeds and unbeatable guarantees. However, they are subjected to more government regulations and federal safety inspections. That means their vehicles must be rigorously maintained, their drivers must be thoroughly vetted, and even the most minor of incidents is subject to investigation. Drivers cannot work shifts longer than 14 hours with 11 hours of driving, and they must take substantial rest breaks before going back on duty.
The FMCSA Safety Measurement System overview offers crash reports, violation reports, and inspection reports. According to this overview, FedEx drivers were involved in 2,021 total reportable crashes of the 24-month reporting period. The company had 66,484 vehicles in operation and 91,085 drivers. In categories of Unsafe Driving, Hours-of-Service Compliance, Vehicle Maintenance, and Driver Fitness, no acute or critical violations were discovered.
Like FedEx, UPS’s delivery fleet is subject to strict governmental regulations. According to the Buzzfeed report cited above, UPS spends $175 million per year on safety training and even prohibits drivers from taking unnecessary left turns to reduce risk of accidents. UPS is unionized, with more than 250,000 members throughout the United States belonging to the Teamsters Union, which advocates for safety and health improvements such as allowing drivers to view vehicle inspection reports and car condition reports.
According to the company’s FMCSA Safety Measurement System overview, there were a total of 2,388 crashes with 125,949 vehicles and 118,498 drivers on the road. Fifty-five crashes were fatal, and 864 crashes resulted in an injury. There were no acute or critical violations discovered.
Why Contact an Austin Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer?
If you have been injured in an accident involving a delivery service vehicle, a big rig accident lawyer in Austin can help you protect yourself and pursue financial recovery. Your decisions directly following a commercial truck accident can greatly impact the outcome of your case. Before you speak with insurance providers, seek the advice of an experienced commercial truck accident lawyer.
The dedicated and seasoned lawyers at Austin’s FVF are proud to offer a no-cost, no-commitment consultation to equip you with the knowledge that will enable you to make wise and timely decisions about your case. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.