Overworked Amazon Drivers Turn Deadly as Holiday Rush Approaches

As the holiday season looks to get into full swing in the coming days, there will be no shortage of people on the road.

Americans certainly love to travel during the holidays, hoping to spend time with loved ones near and far.  Holiday parties will keep working people out late and and possibly a bit tipsy, adding to the danger of slick roads and sudden storms.

But then there are the plethora of couriers and delivery vehicles out and about, rushing to hurriedly bring Christmas joy to all those who prefer the online shopping experience.  For Amazon.com, the season comes with its own issues, as the enormous retailer is forced to hire an army of contracted drivers to help fulfill orders.

This is where things get dangerous.

Every morning, drivers including those who had not passed background checks grabbed one before going out on the road, even if the badges had someone else’s name and photo on them. In other cases, drivers didn’t even bother with a badge. The practices were tacitly accepted by Amazon managers who had delivery quotas to meet, according to current and former employees of Amazon as well as contractors who spoke to NBC News.

As a result, potentially dangerous drivers would be handed the keys to delivery vans full of packages, as well as sensitive information such as the addresses and access codes needed to deliver the packages, these people said.

“They would say, ‘OK, get it done,’” a former delivery company manager said. “And as long as it was delivered before deadline that day, that would make their location look amazing, they may turn their head.”

And it gets worse…

Some people who deliver Amazon packages have been involved in deadly wrecks. In September, ProPublica and The New York Times reported in a joint investigation that they had found more than 60 crashes since June 2015 involving Amazon delivery contractors that resulted in serious injuries, including 10 deaths. They said the tally was likely a fraction of the crashes because many people don’t sue.

BuzzFeed reported in August that Amazon has generally avoided legal liability in such cases, leaving contractors on the hook, although the company has tight control over how those contractors operate.

As Amazon grows, their focus has remained on the idea of performing faster and more profitably, not necessarily more safely, leading to heavy criticisms of the retail giant.