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Addressing at-work road safety risks for delivery and freight drivers

Emma MacLennan, Director, EASST
Emma MacLennan, Director, EASST
12 June 2020

COVID-19 lockdowns have seen an increase in the use of delivery services globally. With this likely to be a continuing trend, we need to address the at-work road safety risks faced by delivery and freight drivers.

Delivery drivers & truck drivers are amongst those essential workers who have been keeping us going during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping supply chains operating and delivering vital supplies direct to our homes as we have locked down.

Even before the pandemic it was being predicted that half of all UK retail sales would be online by 2028. Online shopping is a growing trend that is not likely to stop any time soon. The widespread lockdown measures across the world has possibly only accelerated this transition.

Retailers and food stores, large and small, have been branching out into online delivery across the globe. In the UK, food retailer Marks and Spencer, has taken its food hall online for the first time, partnering with the online food-delivery company, Deliveroo, while food redistribution charity FareShare has opened eight new warehouses and signed up 500 new charity partners in a matter of weeks to increase its delivery capacity by 90 per cent.

In the EASST region, our local partners across 13 countries have all reported an increase in the use of delivery services as people have not been leaving their homes to buy goods. New food delivery apps and other small enterprises have sprung up to deal with this new demand. Recruiters are seeing huge increases in advertisements for delivery drivers. In Kyrgyzstan, post office couriers are now delivering food, medicine, and household goods.

 

But what does this mean for road safety, and are our road systems ready for this change?

 

Most noticeably, the increase in deliveries has meant an increase in commercial vehicles taking to the roads, and parking up on curb-sides. This is not insignificant as a third of all road traffic fatalities involve someone driving for work. Like new enterprise Beeyor.tj in Tajikistan many delivery companies are making use of motorcycles for quick and efficient deliveries around cities. However, motorcyclists can be especially vulnerable on the roads and suffer disproportionately high casualty rates. Their safety in particular needs extra special consideration.

Fleet safety management is one crucial way in which employers and business owners can help reduce road risk. Our CPD-Certified EASST Academy Road Safety At Work: Online Course for Managers can offer an introduction to the key issues of managing commercial vehicles and is a great starting point for any company. For this reason, we are offering a 50 per cent discount to anyone who signs up to our course during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The course covers issues such as driver management, vehicle management, safe working environments and setting corporate standards. It is available online, 24/7.

In addition, as we adjust to the post-COVID ‘new normal’ we need to acknowledge the changes to our shopping habits and what this means for delivery drivers and road risk from a Safe Systems Approach. Till now, road design and urban planning has often overlooked the needs of commercial vehicles, despite the vital role they play in the economy. In urban areas commercial vehicles can face a number of challenges such as limited parking/loading areas; narrow lanes; lack of access; and roadside obstructions – all while navigating around vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. In residential areas, the changing landscape of e-commerce has also meant heavier vehicles entering neighbourhoods at all times of day.

Providing exclusive road accommodation for commercial vehicles with adequate parking and loading ought to be included in any new urban planning design. Speed management and enforcement are also a critical factor – particularly in residential areas.

But first, there needs to be an understanding of the needs of delivery drivers and the risks they face on a daily basis. There has been no significant study in which the drivers themselves have been consulted. As a key stakeholder in a growing sector with high risk levels, this needs to be addressed urgently. At EASST we plan to work with this group of stakeholders to gather qualitative and quantitative data on the effect of the coronavirus in the sector and their perspectives on safety more generally, working with local and international partners to get information from across the region. Armed with this evidence we will be able to develop solutions such as good driver management (which is cost-effective) and good planning in road design.

The best way we can all say thank you to key workers is to do what we can to keep them safe – and road safety is no exception.

Find out about our Road Safety at Work: Online Course for Managers here. Use discount code STAYSAFE50 at the checkout to claim 50% off.

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