Author Bio ▼

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
August 21, 2018

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Road Safety

Gig economy drivers more likely to be involved in traffic collisions

Self-employed drivers and couriers are at a “heightened risk” of being involved in a road traffic accident, according to a new study.

A survey of gig economy drivers and couriers carried out for a new report by the University College London’s Centre for Transport Studies found two in five (42%) reported that their vehicle had been damaged as a result of a collision while working.

One in 10 reported that someone had been injured as a result of a traffic accident and 8% said they themselves had been injured.

The study also found almost two thirds (63%) of respondents are not provided with safety training, while a similar number (65%) said they are not given any safety equipment.

More than 70% of those surveyed said they had to resort to buying their own safety equipment, such as a high-visibility jacket.

“Our findings highlight that the emergence and rise in the popularity of gig work for couriers could lead to an increase in risk factors affecting the health and safety of people who work in the gig economy and other road users,” said Dr Heather Ward.

“As more workers enter the economy and competition rises, the number of hours they need to work and distances they must travel to earn a stable income both increase.

“We know this is an issue but don’t know exactly how far it extends as not all companies need to report the number of self-employed couriers they use to the government,” added Dr Ward.
The report also includes a list of recommendations for companies using self-employed couriers and taxi drivers to limit the pressure drivers and riders are under.

These include introducing time blocks for couriers to sign up and be paid for, rather than a drop rate.

“In previous years the UK had a good road safety record, but de-regulation over the last few years has left self-employed couriers and taxi drivers at an increased risk of exploitation,” added Professor Nicola Christie.

The Health and Safety Executive has regulations on safety at work, but these don’t apply to those whose work takes place on public highways.

“I hope to see the recommendations in this report taken on board by the Department for Transport and incorporated into health and safety regulations as the gig economy is set to continue to increase.”

The report was funded by the Road Safety Trust, with support and fieldwork from Further Afield.

“This report makes for very worrying reading and demonstrates that an enquiry into the into the gig economy and road safety is needed urgently,” said Trust Chief Executive, Sally Lines.

The full report is available to read here.

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