Since the first COVID-19 lockdown, there has been a growing army of gig-economy workers delivering takeaway food and shopping parcels. With 2018 UCL research highlighting how the gig-economy model of work puts pressure on drivers and riders to engage in unsafe driving behaviours such as speeding, interacting with smartphones and driving while fatigued, now is the time to ask if enough is being done to look after these road users.
Recent guidelines published by the Australian Gig Economy Joint Taskforce highlighted unreasonable delivery times, poorly designed apps and use of unsafe vehicles as key hazards and placed the onus on delivery platforms to find solutions.
In the UK, recent Supreme Court rulings have determined that Uber drivers are employees and not self-employed contractors, with their 70,000 UK drivers now guaranteed a minimum wage, holiday pay and pensions. This has sent a clear message that operators must share responsibility for their drivers’ wellbeing and has been followed by calls to extend the new employment rights of the drivers to the safety standards applied to gig economy vehicles.
On the back of recent landmark court rulings, TRL is calling for further research into work-related road safety in relation to the gig-economy. With strong growth likely to continue well into the future, now is the time to make changes to ensure workers are protected, says TRL.