Written By Chris Dolan and Jeremy Jessup
This week’s question comes from Thomas J. from Foster City, CA, who asks: Given the number of Amazon vans and delivery personnel who are on the road, do the Amazon delivery drivers have to undergo any specialized training.
Great question Thomas J.,
In a report released in 2022 by the Strategic Organizing Center, nearly one in five drivers making deliveries for Amazon suffered injuries in 2021, a 40% increase from the previous year’s injury rate. Despite this, California does not require any specialized training for drivers. The Strategic Organizing Center report also found that contracted Amazon delivery drivers suffered injuries at nearly two-and-a-half times the rate of the non-Amazon delivery industry.
In fact, most Amazon delivery drivers, with a few exceptions, do not even need to have a commercial drivers license. Below is a recent job posting and the qualifications needed to be an Amazon delivery driver:
- Eligible to work in the US
- At least 21 years of age
- Valid California Driver’s License
Some have indicated that it is not necessarily poor driving or lack of training that has resulted in an increase in injuries, but the demands of Amazon itself. According to the report, Amazon’s “unmanageably high quotas” for delivery drivers are a major catalyst behind the high injury rates. It cites a class-action lawsuit filed by a Wyoming Amazon delivery partner, which claimed the company expected drivers to deliver about 350-400 packages per day per van. This amounts to drivers making one delivery every 1 to 2 minutes, presuming they don’t take any breaks, the report said.
Unfortunately, it does not seem that California is doing anything about this, unlike Colorado.
In Colorado, as reported by Aldo Svaldi in the Denver Post, before an Amazon delivery driver hits the road in Denver, they have likely gone through a three-day course developed locally, one that could eventually serve as a model of delivery driver training across the country.
Mr. Svaldi reported that the Last Mile Delivery Academy is in unincorporated Adams County, Colorado, in a former distribution center. It has classrooms, virtual reality simulators and an indoor driving course, complete with facades of porches and parking lanes.
All of it is designed to help drivers deliver packages more efficiently and safely.
“We have trained 6,200 drivers since opening in March 2022, and we plan to train 2,000 more in the next several weeks,” said Terry Bailey, a program manager, during Mr. Svaldi’s tour of the academy Aug. 24.
Drivers spend the first day at the academy in classrooms, working through virtual reality simulations of scenarios that could come up.
The second day involves driving vans around an indoor track, complete with porch facades, with a trainer sitting nearby. The third day involves going out on the streets with a trainer. “Among Denver-area delivery drivers who have completed the Last Mile Delivery Academy course, there was an average 10% improvement among safe and distraction-free driving rates, road incidents and dog incident rates in the first 16 days alone compared to the same quarter last year,” said Nissa LaPoint, an Amazon spokeswoman.
Prior to the academy, driver training was limited and was primarily online.
Perhaps California Legislatures can work with Amazon to develop a similar type of program to ensure the safety of everyone.