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Here’s how to make your courier’s life easier this holiday season

Drivers love higher tips but could do without speeders, overinvolved customers

A delivery truck makes its way through snow-covered Flagstaff, Arizona (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

We’re now deep into the holiday season, and most of the attention is being placed on the money — on the consumers who are shopping and the retailers with which they shop.

But not as much fanfare has been directed at holiday sales’ secret weapon, its sturdy foundation, its unsung heroes: delivery drivers. Santa can’t do all the work, and without the help of the thousands who suit up to deliver gifts every peak season, the holidays wouldn’t happen.

For those in the giving spirit this holiday season, there are quite a few ways you can make your courier’s life easier, according to route-planning platform Circuit. The company on Monday released a survey of 600 holiday couriers, asking them about the biggest perks and pet peeves of delivering during peak season.

Read on to find out what you should – and shouldn’t — do to make your driver’s holiday as holly and jolly as yours.

Keep the tips coming

It may come as somewhat of a surprise, but 98% of couriers surveyed told Circuit they actually prefer driving during peak season compared to the rest of the year. About 85% plan to take some time off for the holidays, but close to three-quarters say they drive overtime two to three weeks per month during peak season.

The primary reason? Customers, perhaps imbued with the spirit of giving, tend to tip more  around the holidays. About 72% of drivers cited this as the No. 1 reason they prefer to work during peak season. Higher tips are also the rationale behind parcel delivery drivers being 12% more likely to prefer working during that stretch than food delivery drivers.


Another 7 in 10 (69%) drivers surveyed said that customers are simply more pleasant during the winter months, while 57% said holiday deliveries help cure boredom.


Watch: How to prepare for the holiday season


But there are also a few customer practices that drivers could do without.

The top pet peeve they have for customers, cited by 63% of respondents, is when the recipient tries to intercept the delivery, which can disrupt the driver’s workflow. Another 62% complained of customers specifying hidden or hard-to-reach drop-off locations, and about 61% disliked when they requested rush shipping.

Interestingly, about 1 in 5 drivers (20%) said they were annoyed by decorations interfering with drop-offs, but 48% say fun outdoor displays are part of why they enjoy working during the holidays.

Follow the rules of the road

Drivers have a love-hate relationship with holiday customers, but the time they spend interacting with them makes up only a small portion of their work. The bulk of that time is spent on the road, where couriers have a few gripes with other drivers.

A sizable amount of driver injuries and accidents take place on the road, and 58% of respondents said other drivers’ speeding is their biggest pet peeve. Close behind were driving slowly in the fast lane and driving under the speed limit, which adds to the pressure they face to stay on schedule.

Also ranking highly were tailgating, road construction and distracted driving, the last of which is particularly annoying to truck drivers — 17% more of them ranked it as their top issue.

Drivers voted on the worst states to drive in, with Indiana taking that mantle. California and North Carolina rounded out the top three, and Illinois, Texas and Florida also received plenty of flak.

They also gave their thoughts on driving in cities versus suburbs, with one area standing out as the clear winner. Over half (57%) of respondents claimed city drivers are slower, three-quarters (75%) said they are more distracted, and 87% found them more aggressive.

If you’re a fleet operator, get a better mapping app

Couriers unfortunately aren’t afforded the luxury of a sleigh that can travel in a straight line from delivery to delivery. Instead, they’re stuck using roads like the rest of us — and navigating them can be tedious.

Circuit asked drivers about their biggest pet peeves when it comes to mapping apps. Six in 10 (60%) complained the apps sometimes reroute them without prompting them first, which can severely impede driver workflows.

Another 58% and 56%, respectively, cited rerouting through back roads and small towns as their biggest gripes. Tight turns, narrow side streets and unplowed roads can be a nightmare for delivery drivers trying to stay on schedule.

Smaller batches of respondents said indicating turns too late (39%) or too frequently (14%) will often throw them for a loop.

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Jack Daleo.

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Jack Daleo

Jack is a staff writer for FreightWaves and Modern Shipper covering topics like last mile delivery and e-commerce fulfillment. He studied at Northwestern University, majoring in journalism with a certificate in integrated marketing communications. Previously, Jack has written for Backpacker Magazine and enjoys travel, the outdoors, and all things basketball.