In 2020, restaurant sales slowed due to the pandemic. Business owners had to adopt new models to sustain sales. The lockdowns and other control measures presented an unprecedented opportunity for players in the food delivery services. It was a windfall for players like Ubereats, DoorDash and Grubhub. Statistics show that the industry has been on an exponential growth curve. Annual revenues are expected to exceed $31 billion in 2021.
Unfortunately, every rose has its thorns. The opportunity came with a downside; a surge in food delivery driver accidents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal occupational injuries for driver/sales workers crossed the 1,000 mark — the highest since 2003. This article will inform you about the prevalence of food delivery driver accidents, why there is a surge, and what the drivers can do.
Prevalence of food delivery driver accidents
Just how frequent are food delivery driver accidents in the US? The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide distinct figures. However, one can already guess what the situation is. Data from 2017 shows that independent workers were responsible for 12% of fatal occupational injuries. The majority (85%) were independent contractors, many of whom were in transportation. Such was the case on September 11th. A 31-year old food delivery driver was fatally hit at Sunnyside Queens, New York.
The crash was not an isolated case. A recent survey by the Worker Institute of Cornell University paints a grim picture for food delivery drivers in New York. There were more than ten individual cases of fatalities documented in the opening pages of the report. In addition, the researchers interviewed 500 App-based courier drivers about their safety while at work. Nearly half reported having been involved in an accident or crashed while driving. The most common accidents were:
Being hit by car passengers or drivers opening the door.
Accidents due to issues with the road.
Being veered off the road by a car or truck
Being hit by a car or truck.
Crashing into cars or trucks parked in the bike lane.
Why is there a surge in food delivery driver accidents?
The first reason is a rise in the number of food delivery drivers. Food delivery app users increased from 1.16 billion people in 2019 to over 1.46 billion in 2020. Companies like Doordash, dominant in the US market, have more than one million food delivery drivers.
Due to the higher uptake of food delivery gigs, it is only natural that accidents and other workplace safety issues would increase.
But there are other reasons why food delivery drivers are prone to accidents. They include the following:
Many food delivery drivers are young and inexperienced. They are recent graduates, college students or workers laid off from other industries. Many don’t have sufficient experience navigating the busy streets. They are prone to making errors such as speeding or driving distracted. Besides, there are loose regulations concerning independent contractors. Thus, authorities can hardly stipulate minimum requirements for the rider apps.
Pressure To Deliver Fast
Besides inexperience, food delivery drivers are often under pressure to deliver orders within a short time. Customers rate drivers based on how fast they receive an order. Delays mean a lower rating for the driver. It could result in the suspension of the driver’s account, or the driver could be banned from the platform. As such, food delivery drivers often speed and break traffic rules to meet their “employer needs.”
Working Long Hours
According to glassdoor.com, food delivery drivers earn between $13 and $17 per hour. That’s just about the same or slightly higher than the minimum wage. Many drivers put in long shifts spanning 12-14 hours per day and work six days a week. The Motorcycle Safety Lawyers comment that as a result, “The more exhausted a driver is, the more likely they are to make errors while driving, thus causing accidents.”
Concluding Remarks: What Can Food Delivery Drivers Do To Enhance Safety?
There is no doubt that food delivery drivers provide an essential service, especially when the COVID-19 threat persists. As a driver, there are several perils you will face while on duty. Whilst there are several debates about the role regulators and app owners should play to enhance drivers’ safety, these might not have an immediate impact. But you can be proactive about your safety.
One of the most effective steps you can take is to educate yourself. Learn about road safety and how to handle compensation issues in case of a motorcycle injury. Check if your employer has you covered with special insurance for delivery drivers, (if not make sure you’re properly covered), and also look into enrolling for a course on workplace safety for people working in transportation. Through doing so, you will gain knowledge about how to run your food delivery gigs without endangering yourself.
Although food delivery driver accidents are common, you can reduce the frequency and intensity by learning and practicing workplace safety.