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Amazon delivery drivers were told to turn off safety apps to meet quotas

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A Vice report shows that some of Amazon’s delivery companies try to circumvent the rules

An Amazon Prime delivery van is seen in Seattle. The... Photo by Toby Scott/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

According to a Vice report, some Amazon delivery drivers are instructed by their employers to turn off Amazon’s safe driving monitoring app, so they can drive faster and get their deliveries done. The drivers don’t work for Amazon directly, but instead for companies known as Delivery Service Partners, and they report that their managers or dispatchers ask them to turn off Amazon’s Mentor app after leaving it running long enough to get a good score.

Mentor, the app made by a company called eDriving, gives delivery drivers a safe driving score based on variables like their braking, acceleration, speed, and distraction throughout the course of their 10-hour shift. Many drivers report that the score that the app gives them is factored into their bonuses (and the bonuses and incentives paid to the delivery companies contracted to Amazon).

Vice reports that some of the delivery companies will have the drivers keep the app on for part of the day to try to trick Amazon and the Mentor app, with one company sending drivers messages like “everyone needs to be logged into Mentor for at least 2 hours no more no less.” A driver in Michigan said the company wanted the app turned off to improve delivery times. “They were harsh on drivers that weren’t going as fast as they wanted.”

An Amazon spokesperson told Vice that the behavior is unacceptable and that it “does not adhere to the safety standards that [Amazon expects] of all Delivery Service Partners.” They also said that “more than 90% of all drivers are able to complete their deliveries before the scheduled time while following all safety procedures.” (Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on how it collected and validated that statistic.) As Vice points out, it’s Amazon’s software that determines the delivery routes and Amazon that sets the productivity targets the drivers are incentivized to hit.

According to Vice’s report, Mentor is also buggy when it’s on, with drivers reporting that it dings them for distracted driving when they haven’t touched the phone. The app’s reviews on the App Store have titles like “inaccurate and they don’t care,” “Frustration personified,” and “inaccurate data will cost us our jobs.”

Delivery companies also reportedly ask employees not to report damage to vehicles to Amazon, instead electing to fix the vans themselves to avoid them being taken out of commission.

It’s unclear how Amazon’s recent introduction of AI-powered monitoring cameras will change this dynamic between the Delivery Service Partners and their drivers. One could imagine that having a camera in the van would make it easy to determine if employees were turning off other monitoring devices. One could also imagine there are other ways to ensure safe and quick deliveries that don’t require an Orwellian work environment.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on if it tracks which companies make these requests of drivers.