RoSPA has launched a new guide to provide road safety advice for drivers, riders and employers operating within the gig economy.
The gig economy is the term given to freelance and independent workers, who do not get paid a salary but per ‘gig’ or a ‘piece rate’.
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.
Gig economy workers are regarded as self-employed and are not covered by employment law. However, they are responsible for managing their work in a way that does not create health and safety risks for themselves and others.
The RoSPA guide contains information on what practical actions workers can take to maximise the safety of themselves and others while using the road network.
It covers areas including:
- Vehicle registration, tax, MOT and insurance
- Vehicle checks
- Journey planning
- Alcohol and drugs
- Mobile phones
The guide also provides advice and information for employers who use gig workers, on areas such as insurance, risk assessments and incentivising appropriate safety equipment and training.
Nick Lloyd, head of road safety at RoSPA, said: “The nature of work is changing, with the growth of digital platforms giving rise to new ways of working beyond traditional shift patterns. With this in mind, safety advice must also keep pace.
“Driving is one of the most dangerous activities that most of us will ever do, and driving for work tends to be risker than driving for private reasons. People who drive professionally are more likely to crash even after their higher mileages are taken into consideration.
“Our hope is that by providing tailored guidance to gig economy workers, we might be able to help avoid incidents on the road.
“We also want to see a move away from a relentless targets-driven culture which can lead to unsafe workloads, cause fatigue and result in collisions.”
Gig economy drivers and riders ‘at heightened risk’
Those working in the gig economy are coming under increased scrutiny, with issues around safety regularly raised.
A 2018 study, carried out by Dr Nicola Christie and Heather Ward from the University College London (UCL) Centre for Transport Studies, found more than 60% of self-employed couriers and taxi drivers are not provided with any road safety training.
The study included qualitative interviews with gig economy drivers and riders, and their managers, and an online survey.
63% of respondents said they are not provided with safety training on managing risks on the road, while 65% are not given any safety equipment.
Heather Ward said: “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.”
In November 2019, a series of new introductory training videos were developed for Uber drivers, in a bid to increase driver skills and improve road safety.
The videos, produced by AA DriveTech, now form part of the training package for new Uber drivers – and have been communicated to all existing drivers via the Uber app.