What Happened When an Inside Edition Producer Signed Up to Deliver Packages for Amazon?

Amazon delivers billions of packages a year, but how do those packages get to your door?

Amazon delivers billions of packages a year, but how do those packages get to your door?

In some cases, they're transported by independent contractors, who sign up online to deliver packages. They’re required to have a valid license, pass a background check and review a series of safety and training videos.

But a number of serious and fatal accidents involving drivers delivering packages for Amazon have raised questions about whether the drivers are rushing to deliver the packages on time.

In December 2016, Chicago police say an Amazon delivery driver blew through a stop sign, and struck and killed 84-year-old great-grandmother Telesfora Escamilla.

Nine months ago, Julie Duran was hit by a driver delivering Amazon packages in an Austin, Texas, parking lot. She claimed the driver couldn't see her because of the packages stacked up against her windshield. 

"She just kept saying, 'I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't see you. I didn't see you,'" Duran told Inside Edition. 

Texas attorney Brad Bonilla claims part of the problem is Amazon's use of independent contractors, who often end up making the final deliveries to your home.

“The drivers are under immense pressure,” said Bonilla, who is suing Amazon for negligence after Duran and another client were seriously injured by drivers delivering packages for Amazon. “The biggest complaint [drivers] have is that they have too many packages to deliver and not enough time to deliver them.” Amazon and the drivers involved deny the allegations and any wrongdoing.

Inside Edition Investigative Producer Charlie McLravy signed up as an Amazon Flex driver to see what it's like. When he arrived at an Amazon delivery station in Ft. Worth, Texas, he was handed a safety vest and given 32 packages to deliver.

A manager told McLravy that the deliver route would take "three hours."

"It's actually going to take you less to actually deliver the packages," the manager said. 

The pay for making all those deliveries? $54.

McLravy relied on a sophisticated app to determine the exact route he would take to dole out the parcels. At each stop, he was instructed to scan the package he was dropping off at the front door and take a photo of it if no one was home to receive it.

With 24 different stops to make, McLravy said he quickly realized there was "no way" he was going to finish the route in the three-hour window block the Amazon manager told him it would take.

All told, it took him more than five hours to finish the deliveries, so instead of making $18 an hour, as is listed as the minimum Flex drivers make on Amazon's website, McLravy actually made about $10 an hour. 

This, Bonilla said, gives drivers an incentive to rush to make a decent wage. 

It's important to note that Amazon tells its Flex drivers to obey all traffic laws. 

But Inside Edition's investigation found some drivers didn’t always follow the rules of the road.

McLravy and Inside Edition Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero followed some drivers delivering packages for Amazon from a huge Amazon delivery station in New Jersey. One driver was spotted speeding down the highway in a construction zone.

Guerrero caught up with the driver when he stopped to make a delivery. 

"You were definitely driving dangerously and you were speeding, so why?" Guerrero asked. 

"The day started super late. I was trying to hurry up and get to my delivery," the driver replied. 

"Isn't it dangerous to be driving too fast?" Guerrero countered. 

"Yes and I apologize," he said. 

Another driver was seen running through stop signs and cutting across several lanes of traffic without signalling. Later he was seen parking in a handicap spot.  

"We've noticed you driving erratically and we want to know if you think you're a safe driver," Guerrero said when she approached him. 

"I am a safe driver," he replied before taking off  – once again driving through a stop sign.

In a statement to Inside Edition, Amazon said: "Safety is our number one priority. We regularly communicate a variety of safety topics, including loading and driving practices, with drivers. The vast majority of drivers complete their routes safely in less than the allotted time. If an exception occurs that a driver exceeds their delivery block, they can notify Amazon through the support line and we will work with them to help them resolve the issue."