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How Does a UPS Driver Spend a Workday?

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UPS delivers 16.9 million packages and documents to 7.9 million customers every day. According to the logistics company, roughly 82 percent of its workforce is involved with freight and package handling. Delivery drivers are responsible for their trucks and the contents loaded onto them. They must be courteous and prompt. UPS delivery drivers work by themselves for most of the day, and they must keep their eyes on the clock.

Preparing for the Day

Without fail, the day for a UPS driver begins at the local warehouse. While trucks are loaded, drivers assemble for a morning meeting. Ray Routhier, a reporter who detailed his travels with a UPS driver for the Portland Press Herald of Portland, Maine, noted that the brief meeting included a warning from the supervisor to watch out for cyclists. After the meeting, the driver heads outside for a truck inspection. According to Routhier, the driver must examine his truck for windshield cracks, tire punctures and other blemishes. Once the inspection is complete, it's time to roll.

Timing Is Everything

A driver might average 120 deliveries or more a day. The route is defined by UPS. Computers inside and outside of the truck tell the company if the driver is staying on schedule. The little black box that customers sign when a package is delivered serves as a computer that records time. The UPS truck itself is computerized to show when doors open and close. "You're trained to have a sense of urgency," Wendy Widmann, a former UPS driver, told the magazine Mental Floss. "Be polite, but you gotta go."

Pickup Time

With a structured routine, the delivery portion of the day tends to pass quickly, according to Michael French, a reporter who blogged about working as a UPS driver helper during the 2011 holiday season."Very quickly [the driver's] vehicle was empty and it was 5 p.m.," French wrote. "Don't be fooled. No one was going home." After deliveries, a UPS driver changes gears to pick up packages from a variety of businesses, sometimes including shopping malls. Time continues to be of the essence, according to French, as the driver uses a hand truck to transport boxes to the truck and load them as quickly as possible. Accuracy is also important. Boxes must be loaded tightly for maximum efficiency. Then the driver heads to the UPS facility, where the boxes are unloaded.

In General

A UPS driver can expert to lift packages up to 70 pounds over shifts of up to 12 hours. Depending on the location of the route, a driver's day may include a lot of walking. Ashley Watson, a resident of Vermont who worked as a temporary driver for UPS to earn extra cash, noted that she and the senior driver with her walked more than five miles a shift.


Diane DiPiero began her writing career in New York City with Ladies' Home Journal, then went on to publications focusing on interior design and architecture. Her work has appeared in The Plain Dealer, Better Homes & Gardens, Cleveland Magazine, Woman's World and Crain's Cleveland Business, among other publications. Her online credits include

Photo Credits

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News/GettyImages