Delivery riders seem to be getting into more accidents, ST poll finds

Food delivery companies say they have various measures to try to keep their riders safe on the roads.
Food delivery companies say they have various measures to try to keep their riders safe on the roads. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

With Singaporeans' growing appetite for the convenience of food delivered to their doorsteps, the deliveryman who brings them their grub has been getting into more accidents.

The number of accidents involving food delivery riders appears to have risen since 2016, based on an unofficial tally of online media reports.

On Dec 20, a 42-year-old GrabFood delivery rider died after his motorcycle collided with an 800 Super truck. It was the first reported fatal accident involving a food delivery rider this year.

The same night, a Foodpanda delivery rider fractured his left arm in an accident involving a drunk driver in Petir Road, in Bukit Panjang.

The police told The Sunday Times that they do not have data on accident victims categorised according to their occupation, such as food delivery riders. Checks with food delivery companies also drew a blank.

But statistics of cases reported in online English media reports compiled by The Sunday Times showed that there were at least 25 reports of food delivery riders meeting with accidents between last year and this year.

This is a big jump from just three cases between 2016 and 2017. Last year, there were 12 accidents reported, with four cases reported in the first half of the year.

At least 13 accidents have been reported this year as of Dec 20. Industry observers and food delivery riders believe that the real figure is higher.

Nine out of 10 delivery riders interviewed by The Sunday Times said that they had met with accidents or knew of fellow riders who had met with accidents since they started working in the industry.

They cited the main reasons as rushing to complete orders, rash motorists and pedestrians who are not alert on the roads.

"Food delivery riders often work long and odd hours and suffer from fatigue. We also have to deal with impatient customers who press us to deliver their food fast," said GrabFood rider Ramdan Samat.

The 32-year-old has had several close calls on the job.

Mr Ramdan, who earns about $2,000 a month for his trips, said the incentives offered by food delivery apps may also encourage riders to take on more orders.

Some riders also feel that food delivery companies can do more to promote safety. When contacted, the companies said that they have been working on measures to arrest the trend of accidents.

Foodpanda, Deliveroo and GrabFood have road safety courses and programmes to equip riders with safe riding practices and tips.

A spokesman for Grab said the company actively provides relevant safety training for its riders, providing safety reminders, online training modules and safety videos to keep riders up to date on road regulations.

A spokesman for Deliveroo said all new riders are given a safety kit, which includes a waterproof jacket, a long-sleeved base layer top and delivery bags - all brightly coloured to increase visibility.

Since last month, Deliveroo riders have been required to wear a shirt or base layer of their choice made of at least 30 per cent reflective material while completing deliveries, to ensure increased visibility.

Mr Luc Andreani, Foodpanda Singapore's managing director, said the company conducts onboarding sessions for new riders. The sessions familiarise new riders with Land Transport Authority regulations, and refresher sessions are conducted in alignment with road regulations.

Experts say that more can be done in addition to safety training.

Professor Chin Hoong Chor from the National University of Singapore said that increasing safety courses presumes the problem of accidents lies solely with the riders.

He said: "There is little understanding on accidents caused by PMDs (personal mobility devices). More riders and more trips simply increase the exposure to the risk. Without addressing the risk holistically, the problem will not go away."

Nominated MP Walter Theseira added that it is important to note the accident rate instead of the raw number of accidents to understand if food delivery riders posed a greater risk on the roads or streets.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 29, 2019, with the headline Delivery riders seem to be getting into more accidents, ST poll finds. Subscribe