Skip to Content

Are There Too Many Delivery Drivers?

Delivery apps like Grub Hub and DoorDash have made weeknight dinners easier than ever. Convenient apps have made it easier than ever to get comfort food, even in times of social distancing.

However, there’s growing concern that increased use of delivery apps may be contributing to increased traffic and increased car accidents. Does that mean there are too many delivery drivers?

Unhealthy Competition

Some argue that the app-delivery economy results in fewer drives on the road, not more. That’s not entirely true.

The existence of delivery apps makes people more likely to order out. In general, people who have delivery app accounts are more likely to order food than people who don’t have the apps are likely to go out to eat. In other words, the existence of delivery apps creates more traffic. The more competing delivery apps appear, the more drivers will be on the road.

Delivery apps don’t have a hard cap on the number of active drivers in an area at any given time. That means all the active drivers in an area could be looking for a connection at the same time, resulting in far more drivers than delivery orders.

Delivery apps are not isolated. At present, there are four competitive delivery apps (DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, Post Mates), all with an uncapped number of different delivery drivers on the road. Add in grocery delivery and there are even more delivery drivers on the road.

App drivers have complained of these issues for years, but have mostly gone unnoticed because it’s more profitable to have as many drivers on the road as possible. However, that creates traffic comprised of drivers who are usually not actually delivering orders. That’s because of a phenomenon called deadheading.


On average, 50% of any app-delivery driver’s time is spent deadheading. This means that they are driving aimlessly while waiting for orders. That, in turn, contributes to traffic congestion, wasted gas, and more car accidents.

Deadheading is further exacerbated by the premise of the delivery economy. A pizza delivery driver returns to their home store after every order and waits until the next order comes out. An app-delivery driver has no way to know where their next order might come from. That often means driving around unfamiliar areas or driving up and down the same stretch, especially in crowded cities with limited parking.

Delivery Driver Dangers

Whenever delivery and rideshare apps enter a new market, auto accidents increase by 3%. An increase in the number of drivers on the road isn’t the only reason for that.

Unlike traditional pizza or Chinese delivery, app delivery drivers get paid per order. That means they are incentivized to cut corners and drive carelessly. It’s tempting to run a yellow light when waiting at a red light means losing money.

This is worsened by the fact that peak delivery hours are the same as peak commuting hours. That often means delivery drivers contributing to light-to-light traffic jams in cities. While bikes are frequently used in cities, that’s not always an option when delivery apps allow customers to order from a 5-mile radius.

Additionally, delivery drivers in busy cities, like Sacramento, may feel forced to park illegally to save time on their orders. That means potential traffic congestion, fender benders, or even tragic pedestrian accidents.

More Accidents

There’s a fair amount of evidence that an increase in using food delivery apps causes an increase in car accidents. When those accidents happen, victims have a right to pursue just compensation for their injuries.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries at the hands of a delivery driver, you might need an attorney who puts people first. If you’d like an experienced Sacramento injury lawyer from Piering Law Firm to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (916) 476-2399.