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Couriers are more likely to crash due to time demands

UBER and Amazon couriers are at high risk of crashing due to the demands of gig economy work, a study suggests.

University College London researchers found that nearly half of drivers who pick up work through apps had damaged their vehicle in a collision while working.

Of the 200 drivers or riders surveyed, 47 per cent admitted to breaking speed limits because of time pressure and one in 10 said someone had been injured as a result of their crash at work.

The study found that apps distracted 40 per cent of gig economy workers when they were behind the wheel, while 30 per cent admitted running a red light.

Uber drivers accept bookings through their smartphones, which then sets the route to their destination. Couriers for Amazon Flex have their deliveries set on an app.

An anonymous participant told researchers: “You must stay within your time windows. The customer gets a delivery window when the parcel will be delivered and if you go out of those windows, you get fined for it.”

Report author Heather Ward said the findings highlighted that the rise in popularity of gig work for couriers could lead to an increase in health and safety risks of workers and other road users.

“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,” she said.

Uber has said it has about 40,000 drivers in London alone.

The report recommends that pay rates based on hours rather than passengers or packages would help “depressurise the work” and improve safety.

GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “The damning conclusions of this report back up what GMB has been saying for years: gig economy employers, particularly courier companies, are exposing delivery drivers, riders and the general public to unacceptable risks to their health and safety.

“GMB calls on the government to bring forward legislation to enhance driver and public safety — the same laws which exist for those working in the more traditional employment models.”

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