Study Reveals Amazon Truck Drivers Twice as Likely to have Unsafe Driving Scores
Big, blue vehicles with the Amazon logo have become increasingly frequent sights on our roads and highways in recent years as the online retailer has dominated the home delivery market. And while any accident involving a large truck is more likely to result in serious property damage and injuries than accidents involving only passenger vehicles, a recent study seems to indicate that contract drivers of Amazon trucks may be much more likely to be involved in accidents while driving for Amazon than for other companies. This must prompt the question — why are Amazon truck accidents occurring at a greater rate?
Are Amazon Truck Accidents Caused by Amazon Truck Drivers?
According to Amazon, no, because the company doesn’t employ almost all of the people actually driving Amazon trucks. Rather, Amazon contracts with individual drivers and transportation companies to do all the driving. This is becoming an increasingly common practice, the use of contracted drivers rather than directly employed drivers. While many companies do this to try to hold the driver at arm’s length for liability reasons — “It wasn’t our employee who caused the accident; it was an independent contractor . . .” — the companies just as frequently do this to save on staffing costs, because “contractors” don’t have to be provided with the same benefits and legal protections that direct employees receive.
Do Amazon Truck Accidents Occur at a Greater Rate?
Certainly, if a particular delivery company puts more trucks on the road, we would expect that the number of accidents their vehicles are involved in would increase in number — more trucks driving more miles are going to be involved in more accidents. The real question is whether their vehicles and drivers are getting into accidents at a greater rate than the vehicles and drivers of other transportation and delivery companies.
The sheer volume of Amazon trucks now on the roads has prompted folks to take a closer look at this, and the Wall Street Journal recently reported on the findings of a Michigan State University researcher whom the Journal asked to investigate the matter. As reported in the Journal and other publications:
- Amazon contracts with more than 50,000 “delivery companies” (some of them just individual drivers).
- The researcher looked at government data on some 3,500 of those Amazon contractors.
- Contractors hauling for Amazon were involved in accidents causing more than 75 fatalities since 2015.
- During an 18-month period from 2020 to 2022, data on more than a thousand Amazon truck contractors showed they were “more than twice as likely as all other similar companies to receive bad, unsafe driving scores.”
The researcher found that many of the trucking companies employed by Amazon had poor “conditional” ratings assigned to them by the U.S. Department of Transportation, indicating that they aren’t in full compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) safety standards.
What Are the Implications?
It’s well recognized that accidents involving large trucks are more likely to cause serious injuries and fatalities. So, anything that increases the frequency of Amazon truck accidents or other crashes involving large trucks presents an increased risk for everyone who uses American roads and highways.
While Amazon disputes the research findings and article quoted above, it can’t dispute the fact that more and more Amazon trucks are on the roads, being driven by Amazon drivers (whether contractors or employees), and getting into more and more accidents. Reports and even lawsuits have arisen alleging that Amazon pushes its drivers beyond reasonable limits, leading to an increased likelihood of accidents. And pressuring drivers to work hard while attempting to deny benefits and escape liability by calling them “contractors” cannot be a viable long-term strategy.
View this recent report from CBS News on concerns raised by Amazon’s trucking practices:
Amazon Truck Accident Lawyer
Hello, my name is Ed Smith, and I’m an Amazon truck accident lawyer. Delivery companies that put truck drivers on the road and pressure them to work in ways that may increase accident rates cannot escape responsibility for their actions by simply claiming they weren’t responsible for a “contractor’s” negligence when the driver isn’t a direct employee. The research described here seems to point clearly to the dangers of doing just this. If you or member of your family was seriously injured in an Amazon truck accident, please contact us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice. You can also reach us through our online contact form.
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