Amazon responsible for crash because software “micromanages” delivery drivers, victim says

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Enlarge / An Amazon delivery truck drives down a street in Anaheim, California.

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Amazon is currently defending itself against a lawsuit that could determine whether it is responsible for the actions of its contract delivery drivers.

In March, Ans Rana was going to see her sister’s new home with her father and brother, who were driving a Tesla Model S, when they ran into a broken down vehicle on Interstate 75 outside of Atlanta. Rana’s brother slow motion at a nearby stop, but the Amazon delivery van behind them apparently didn’t notice. The driver of the van was traveling nearly 14 miles per hour over the speed limit, Rana’s lawyers claim in a lawsuit. The van slammed into the back of the Tesla with such force that it pushed the car into the left lanes of the freeway where it was struck by a Toyota Corolla before hitting the middle barrier.

Rana suffered life-threatening injuries, including head trauma, and had to be placed on a ventilator. His spinal cord was also damaged and he was unable to regain use of his legs or arms despite months of therapy and rehabilitation.

“I lost my legs, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy”, Rana Recount Bloomberg.

In June, Rana sued Amazon and its delivery provider, alleging that the e-commerce giant is responsible for the driver’s actions because of the software the company uses to monitor them. Amazon says he’s not responsible because the driver wasn’t working for him, but rather for Harper Logistics LLC, a contractor who handles deliveries for the tech company.

In-game software

Yet Rana’s lawsuit alleges that Amazon is responsible because it ultimately controls the delivery transaction. Amazon is keeping a close eye on its drivers through the use of a smartphone app and on-board cameras and sensors in an effort to minimize delivery times and address safety concerns. The company closely monitors a number of actions taken by drivers, including “back-up monitoring, speed, braking, acceleration, cornering, seat belt use, phone calls, SMS, on-board cameras that use artificial intelligence to detect yawns, etc. », Indicates the trial.

Further, the lawsuit claims Amazon is pushing contractors and drivers to prioritize speed over safety, with Amazon employees texting “complaining that a certain driver is ‘behind the bunny’ and needs to be.” rescued “to ensure that all packages on Amazon’s routes are delivered in accordance with Amazon’s unrealistic and unsafe speed expectations,” he said.

In addition to Amazon, Rana is suing entrepreneur Harper Logistics, driver Bryan Williams and Old Republic Insurance, the contractor’s insurance company. But Amazon is unlikely to be able to cover Rana’s costs, especially as medical bills already exceed $ 2 million. Harper Logistics’ insurance policy only covers $ 1 million in third party liability, and the company does not own the vans it operates, meaning that even if it went bankrupt, it likely could not. not cover costs. Williams, who is 23, makes just $ 15 an hour. Amazon, on the other hand, made more than $ 3 billion in profits last quarter.

“Committed to safety”

Amazon spokeswoman Maria Boschetti told Bloomberg the company is “committed to the safety of the drivers and the communities we deliver to.” She added that Amazon is working with delivery providers to “set realistic expectations that don’t put undue pressure on them or their delivery associates.” Boschetti said the number of incidents per mile for the first nine months of 2021 is down from the same period last year.

Delivery drivers typically work in 10-hour shifts and deliver around 250 packages, depending on the route. They drive Amazon-branded vans, wear Amazon-branded uniforms, and must use Amazon’s Flex app, which the lawsuit says “micromanages every conceivable aspect of parcel delivery.”

Amazon first entered the delivery market in 2018, and its outsourcing-focused approach began to run into problems almost immediately. Drivers are said to have broken laws in an attempt to meet what they called unreasonable quotas. Amazon had initially considered training its new fleet of drivers, but abandoned those plans to speed up the rollout.

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