Vice News reports that Amazon delivery drivers are being forced to take dangerous routes and often walk through traffic to deliver packages due to the company’s cost-saving routing algorithm which directs drivers to package destinations via the most cost-effective and fastest routes.
Vice News writes:
Mike, an Amazon delivery driver in central Florida, is accustomed to jogging back and forth across three-lane highways to deliver packages. He has sprinted across busy commercial streets during rush hour, and crossed rural highways on foot at sundown.
“I find the most dangerous to be smaller two-lane highways with almost no room to pull off the road,” Mike told Motherboard in May. (Mike spoke on condition of pseudonymity because he fears he could lose his job for speaking to the press.) “The speed limits on these roads will often be 50-60 mph and we’re having to pull halfway off the road and then [walk across] … oftentimes at night.”
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If it were up to him, Mike said, he would never run across a highway with his arms full of packages. But the routing algorithm designed for its Flex app by Amazon’s research scientists often makes it unavoidable, according to a source with direct knowledge of Amazon’s routing algorithm. In North America and Europe, roughly 85,000 contracted delivery drivers rely on this algorithm to do their jobs. While crossing the street in a quiet suburban neighborhood is probably safe, doing so on a 50 mph highway can be deadly.
The Flex app determines the delivery routes for both Amazon’s contracted delivery drivers and members of its independent contractor workforce, known as Amazon Flex drivers. When a driver is making deliveries to multiple addresses that are located near to each other, the app combines them into a single stop. Drivers call these “group stops.”
Those stops often include addresses on both sides of a street — or highway. Instead of directing drivers to make a U-turn and deliver packages on one side of the street before driving to the other, the app tells drivers to cross the street on foot.
A former Amazon dispatcher, who monitorrf delivery drivers’ progress on their routes via GPS, said that sometimes group stops on the Flex app are so spread out that it can take 15 minutes to run up and down and across streets to make deliveries. The former dispatcher stated: “You’re hauling ass to get to these houses, sometimes running across four lanes of traffic.”
Read more at Vice News here.