WASHINGTON, D. C.-Drivers for Amazon’s Demand Slide Platform (DSP), which are third-party delivery services working under Amazon’s branding, are voicing discontent following the rollout of Netradyne’s Driveri Camera, an AI monitoring platform that will deliver a litany of statistics on what drivers are doing on their deliveries.
The implementation of the cameras was green-lit by Amazon in early February, which they told the press was a measure to help improve safety for both drivers and communities. For some drivers in the DSPs, it’s a significant invasion of privacy.
“Greenlit is a funny way to put it. More like a metaphorical gun to the head of all drivers and DSPs,” said Sarah (not sources real name), a DSP driver with a year and a half of experience under her belt.
Users have received mandatory consent forms on company devices, asking for “consent to video technology”, due by March 25 at 9 p.m. according to their time zone.
DSP drivers are not strangers to company surveillance. For the past few years, drivers have had to install the Mentor app on their phones, which tracks acceleration, breaking patterns, seat belt violations, and a host of other data. These statistics are sent to Amazon and aggregated to create a kind of driver’s score.
Drivers have long complained about the Mentor app for its stringent tracking of their driving habits, numbers that can result in pay cuts, or a loss of your job entirely.
“The speeding part I get. Everything else seems too much to me,” said Robert, a driver who works out in the western regions of the US. “It’s not very smart. It doesn’t take into account things like speeding up to merge onto a four-lane highway or current road conditions.”
Robert’s DSP has just outfitted over 100 vehicles with the Netradyne camera system and says things are likely to get even worse.
“Netradyne tracks WAY more. As I understand it, you can even be dinged for yawning.”
These “dings” are computed into a driver FICO score, which is then used to determine whether or not drivers are eligible for bonuses. Drivers can also receive disciplinary action and even be terminated over these scores. However, drivers can receive similar “dings” for not delivering all of their packages, or for being on the clock too long.
Many of the drivers who provided comments to The Daily News Feed called this a “lose-lose” situation and questioned whether Amazon’s claims about improving safety were sincere.
“There was a branded Prime van that had malfunctioning airbags for several months,” said Sarah, who noted that most of the drivers in her DSP had experienced driving a vehicle with broken parts or faulty equipment.
When asked about awareness from upper management and Amazon personnel about the safety violations, Sarah affirmed that the DSP was “absolutely aware”, and that Amazon reps would “have to be willfully ignorant” to not see it.
For some members of management at the DSPs, the monitoring doesn’t affect their day-to-day; largely because they ignore it.
“I don’t write up my drivers for mentor-related offenses,” said Ryan, a dispatch operator out of a DSP in the Midwest. “There were a couple of workarounds for the Mentor app. Like putting it on a second phone and putting on airplane mode.”
Ryan’s DSP has similarly seen the Netradyne system being implemented for his drivers but says that there won’t be disciplinary actions for his drivers because of what the camera says.
“For this system, I’m not sure what the workaround will be. Maybe put a sticker over the camera? I won’t write up anyone for that if they do.”
Amazon’s PR Office provided comment to the Daily News Feed on the matter, saying that the implementation of the Netradyne system is motivated solely by safety.
“Netradyne cameras are used to help keep drivers, and the communities where we deliver, safe. We piloted the technology from April to October 2020 on over two million miles of delivery routes and the results produced remarkable driver and community safety improvements,” said Deborah Bass, Amazon spokesperson.
“Don’t believe the self-interested critics who claim these cameras are intended for anything other than safety.”
Bass also added commentary from a former driver, Nick G., who has since moved up into an Operations Manager role at BISN. Nick wrote that Netradyne “makes me feel better protected as a driver” and that it keeps his “human nature to go fast” in check.
Amazon’s PR Office released statistics stating that trials of the Netradyne system decreased traffic accidents by 40%, as well as seatbelt violations by 60%, and distracted driving by 45%.
Despite the debate over whether the new camera system is really about safety, implementation of the Netradyne system has already begun.
Users will have to comply with the consent form by 9 p.m. this evening. One source posted to the Discord community board that their supervisor told them to either sign it or to find employment elsewhere. For some drivers, this might just be the last straw.
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