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Amazon drivers describe pressures and pitfalls of delivering for a DSP

Amazon has more than 115,000 drivers working under independent small businesses — Delivery Service Partners — who deliver Prime packages to doorsteps with one-day shipping. We talked with current and former Amazon DSP drivers about the pressures of the job. From urinating in bottles to running stop signs, routes that lead drivers to run across traffic, dog bites and cameras recording inside vans at all times - some of the 115,000 DSP drivers have voiced big concerns.
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Mon, Jun 21 20217:29 AM EDT

With Prime Day upon us, Amazon has a lot of deliveries to make. And since 2018, it's largely outsourced that work to small businesses, called Delivery Service Partners, or DSPs, in order to rely less and less on UPS and the U.S. Postal Service. It now has more than 2,000 independent contractor DSPs who have hired more than 115,000 drivers for those dark blue Prime vans.

But since Amazon made one-day shipping the norm in 2019, drivers have voiced some big concerns. CNBC talked to current and former DSP drivers about the relentless workload required to get packages to some 200 million Prime members overnight.

"The idea that a driver feels like he can't eat lunch or go to the bathroom, he or she, is a problem. People are hitting folks in crosswalks. They are, you know, hurting their own bodies, because they're so afraid of losing their jobs because they have to get these routes done," said Adrienne Williams, who drove for an Amazon DSP from November 2019 to July 2020.

A 2019 ProPublica report found Amazon's contract drivers were involved in more than 60 serious crashes since 2015, at least 10 of which were fatal. In court, Amazon has repeatedly said it's not responsible for the actions of its contractors.

"I think Amazon owes it to the contractors and the drivers to make sure that the driver is operating safely. And that includes not forcing the driver to make 25 stops in a specific timeframe that compels the driver to take risks behind the wheel," said Mark Solomon, who tracks Amazon for logistics analyst FreightWaves.

Drivers told us that problematic routing has led them into dangerous situations and left them no time to find a bathroom.

"Now that's why some people are urinating in cups and everything and plastic bottles," said Shaleen Williams, who currently drives for an Amazon DSP in Lansing, Michigan.

Watch the video to hear from more drivers about the realities of the job, how the model works, and why Amazon outsources delivery to DSPs.