In recent years, Amazon, Target, Walmart and other leading online retailers are shifting their hiring practices for the holiday season. In the past, most of these companies primarily hired seasonal workers for their stores. However, with the search of online traffic and millions more choosing to do their shopping over the Internet, help is needed more than ever before in warehouses that fill trucks transporting goods to stores and fulfill online orders. But, this new strategy of filling seasonal jobs could place new workers in jeopardy due to the unexpected hazards a delivery company work environment.
In September 2017, UPS, the largest parcel delivery service in the world, release plans to hire almost 100,000 additional workers to handle and deliver packages through the holidays beginning in November and ending in January. FedEx stated the company would be hiring approximately 50,000 additional workers to handle the surge during the holiday season.
A Race to Deliver
The major delivery companies transport tens of millions of packages to global consumers every day. They transport millions of pounds of cargo and freight by using thousands of semi-tractor-trailers and tens of thousands of vans and trucks. Every delivery truck driver will stop at many dozens of locations to pick up and delivery parcels, packages, and envelopes logging billions of miles through dense traffic every year.
Most of the box handling occurring at UPS, FedEx, and other delivery companies are moved using automation except for loading and unloading trucks that bring in the merchandise and deliver packages to customers. More consumers than ever are making online purchases to have the packages delivered to their door on the same day or the second day after placing an order. To ensure timely delivery, the driver’s race between stops blocking traffic as they hop out of the vehicle with overnight envelopes and packages. Most of us don’t mind them obstructing traffic because we want our packages delivered promptly too.
Unfortunately, these drivers are on a tight schedule. The race to deliver a package on time places the delivery truck driver, coworker and others sharing the road in immediate jeopardy even if the accident they cause is minor. Many crashes involving delivery vehicles are catastrophic, leading to severe injuries and loss of life.
Truck Driver Qualifications
To remain afloat and profitable, these delivery companies have rigorous training qualification programs to ensure that their delivery workers maintain an impressive safe driving record. Even so, keeping up with the demand of the needy consumers, especially during the long holiday season, increases the stress and chaos involved in delivering packages on time. Even the best drivers trying to maintain a hectic schedule could cause a crash if they’re distracted, driving fatigued or forced to take evasive action to avoid a crash from occurring.
In addition to the neighborhood vans and trucks making their way to the community, UPS Ground, FedEx Ground, Walmart and other delivery companies are constantly moving their packages and envelopes over the nation’s highways. These trucks are also susceptible to fatigue and distraction that could lead to a catastrophic accident.
- In January 2015, a three-truck crash occurring west of Gary Indiana on Interstate 80/94 claimed the life of the UPS truck driver. The accident occurred when the driver of a semi-truck without a trailer lost control the vehicle before colliding with a Volvo semi-tractor-trailer prior to careening across every traffic lane before striking a UPS semi that was disabled along the road.
- In June 2014, a trucker driving a Walmart semi-tractor-trailer crashed into Saturday Night Live cast member actor Tracy Morgan’s limousine on the New Jersey Turnpike, killing one passenger and severely injuring others including Tracy. Investigators believe that fatigue was the cause of the accident.
- Just two months earlier in April 2014, ten individuals lost their lives, and 39 others suffered severe injuries when a FedEx truck collided with the tour bus in California on Interstate 5 in Glenn County.
A Serious Safety Issue
An investigative unit working for NBC in the Bay Area in California concluded after an exhaustive investigation that parcel delivery truckers had racked up hundreds of violations in 24 months. The fact-finding team concluded that FedEx Freight truckers had been cited at least 679 times for serious unsafe driving violations and had been involved in 730 accidents in that time frame.
Documents from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revealed that half of those violations involved speeding. Other regulatory rules and law violations involved improper lane changes, “failure to obey traffic control devices” and distracted driving while texting or talking on a smartphone.
While the number of accidents is shocking, it represents only a small fraction of all the crashes with injuries and fatalities caused by delivery truck drivers throughout the United States. FedEx freight represent only the parcels that are delivered by ground and not packages delivered overnight and by Second Day Air or the deliveries made by local trucks and vans by FedEx, UPS, DHL, the Postal Service and others.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), FMCSA, state-by-state Departments of Transportation and others encourage delivery businesses to take appropriate measures to reduce the potential for catastrophic accidents. The federal and state agencies recommend that the company provide specific safety precautions in their training programs to employees throughout the year, especially during the holiday season.
Motorists sharing the roadways can also alleviate many of the problems associated with delivery truck accidents including allowing the semi-, truck or van plenty of room to navigate on the road, populated city streets, and crowded neighborhoods. Providing ample space allows enough room for each vehicle to stop safely. Staying out of the trucker’s blind spot on either side or behind the vehicle can decrease the potential of being involved in an accident. Providing ample space for large trucks and delivery vans during the rainy season, icy conditions, snowstorms, and other forms of inclement weather can help minimize the risk of being involved in a catastrophic accident.