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Improving safety for gig economy workers

A new project will evaluate the role of telematics in reducing speed violations among drivers and riders in the delivery sector.

The project is being carried out by University College London (UCL), thanks to £140k in funding from the Road Safety Trust.

The gig economy is the term given to freelance and independent workers, who do not get paid a salary but per ‘gig’ or ‘piece rate’.

Professor Nicola Christie, from UCL’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, says this creates a “highly pressurised” environment, with many drivers and riders reporting that they are likely to violate speed limits to gain more work.

The most common example of companies who rely on these types of workers are the ride-hailing firm Uber, and food delivery companies such as Deliveroo and Just Eat.

Professor Christie said: “It is estimated that over 500 fatalities a year involve someone who drives for work.

“The growth of e-commerce and home delivery is associated with a rapid increase in vans and people working in the gig economy.

“Delivery work is highly pressurised, and many drivers report that they are likely to violate speed limits which is a key risk factor for crashes and injury.

“Our study focuses on exploring how telematics can be used to manage this risk factor to support safer and more sustainable delivery work and reduce the risk they pose to themselves and other road users.”

The Road Safety Trust awarded more than £1million in funding for technology-focussed road safety projects through its main theme grants in 2021.

Sally Lines, chief executive of the Road Safety Trust, said: “We really welcome the project from UCL, as it has a clear link to how technology can be used to improve road safety and in turn help us work towards our vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on UK roads.”