Insurance is generally more expensive for couriers and delivery drivers, largely because, statistically, they make more claims than other drivers. Let’s look at this as human beings, though: it’s shockingly clear that couriers and delivery drivers just aren’t as safe as they should be while they carry out their jobs.
From the fast-food delivery driver who knows their local area like the back of their hand, to the same-day courier travelling hundreds of miles on unknown roads and motorways, delivering parcels across the UK, there are few who haven’t had a near miss, if not an outright accident.
Why are couriers and delivery drivers so at risk on the roads? And what can be done to improve road safety for them?
Physical and mental fatigue
Post-Brexit and Covid, the need for commercial drivers is greater than ever before, which has created extraordinary pressure on those in the delivery service industry. For some employed couriers, it’s their second-job, earning extra income on top of their regular employment, and for others, it’s a full-on, full time occupation.
There’s little doubt that fatigue plays a role in some accidents. For instance, there’s the physical side of the job, loading and unloading sometimes heavy parcels, as well as the mental fatigue of driving and navigating, often for long periods and under pressure to meet deadlines.
It’s important that drivers take the proper breaks, even if they’re behind schedule. Drivers themselves should take responsibility for that, but employers also have to instill a sense of good practice into their drivers, and not place intolerable – and dangerous – pressure on them to meet deadlines at any cost.
According to 2019 figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), more people were killed driving on rural roads than on urban roads and motorways combined.
In Great Britain, driving on minor roads is unavoidable – they make up 87% of all road miles in the country, so couriers and delivery drivers from every corner of the industry are likely to do their fair share of driving on winding country lanes.
To improve road safety on these roads, a courier driver should take particular care in these areas:
- Slowing down on bends, and negotiating them carefully to avoid loss of control or collision with other, unseen vehicles.
- Stopping at junctions – visibility may be more limited at rural T-junctions and crossroads
- Overtaking – again, visibility is often restricted on bends and gradients, which is the cause of a lot of collisions.
Couriers are susceptible to more distractions than the average driver. They’re often navigating a new area, paying attention to a sat nav or fielding phone calls from their depot manager or even customers.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that these distractions lead to accidents. Even when using hands-free devices, evidence shows that a driver is 4 times more likely to crash.
Couriers should keep phone calls to a minimum if possible, or limit calls to when they have pulled over safely. And of course, never use a handheld device while driving – it’s against the law.
Driving too fast
Urgent deliveries are nothing new in the daily life of a courier, but pressure from customers and employers to beat the clock makes it tempting to drive too fast. This can all too easily lead to a driver losing control of their vehicle. Technically, the driver may not be breaking a speed limit, but things like taking a bend too fast, or not slowing down in wet road conditions can be just as significant in causing an accident.
As mentioned previously, employers must manage the pressure culture that causes a driver to take these risks, in particular removing any penalties for late deliveries through no fault of their own.
Other options that could help to improve driving standards include, providing advanced driver training for couriers, and using route-planning software to find the most efficient routes for deliveries. This could help to keep deliveries on track and reduce pressure on drivers to cut corners.
Delivery drivers are jumping in and out of their vans all day, but no matter how short the journey is to the next drop-off, they should never be tempted not to bother with their seatbelt. According to latest figures, 27% of all car occupants who died in an accident were not wearing a seatbelt.
Apart from being the law, wearing a seatbelt can save a driver’s life or reduce the seriousness of their injuries.
Working together, drivers and their employers can reduce the risks and improve road safety standards. They might even help to lower the cost of insurance for courier drivers!