Motorcycle delivery safety is a strongly concern in the UAE, as each day, thousands of deliverymen across the country cope with life-threatening work-related risks, and the number of deliverymen is growing by the day! The pressures of the job are constant: dangerous encounters with motorists and long hours in return for wages and occasional tips. Then there is the weather – especially in summer , more people are choosing to order in their meals and groceries rather than venture outside.
Restaurants know that delivering orders quickly is a good way to expand business. Even though some restaurants and shops don’t set strict time limits for deliveries, these men know that they have to be quick. This pressure – and the fear of getting scolded by their employers – can make them literally zigzag through traffic, risking their lives and those of others.
Unfortunately, deliverymen have few defenders or advocates for their well-being. According to the data revealed by Dubai Police, motorbike accidents resulted in 26 fatalities in 2015 and 2016. Motorcyclists were involved in 824 traffic offences in 2016, and 786 bikes were seized. The vast majority of these accidents are attributed to professional delivery riders. The majority of motorcycle collisions with other vehicles were reported to be caused by lack of attention or awareness on the part of the driver of the other vehicle. This may in part be due to vehicle design; A-pillars can obscure or hide motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users.
In March 2017, RTA issued new rules for motorcycle delivery bikes which will come into effect on 6-June-2017 (grace period until 6-March-2018): 50x50x50 cm maximum dimension of the storage boxes on the motorcycles, firmly fixed with screws/bolts rather than welding it, the edges of the box must be smooth and not sharp, and the box must not protrude beyond the back-end of the bike to avoid the risk of mis-balancing the bike. The delivery box must be fitted with lights on all sides, it must be tightly fixed to the body of the bike leaving no space in between. Phosphoric reflector strip must be fixed to the delivery box. Identifiable information must be written on both sides of the box, legible from a distance of 20 metres. No pillion rider is allowed on the bike.
Responsible delivery fleet operators should have a sound policy in place to protect their riders, covering the Risk and hazards for motorcycle messengers, which are:
- Road traffic (risk of road accidents)
- Time pressure (just-in-time delivery)
- Vehicles (poorly maintained, equipment not appropriate)
- Unbalanced, awkward loads
- Bad weather, inappropriate clothing
- Lack of protective clothing (high visibility vests, helmets)
- Lack of training
- Lone working
- Contact with clients (risk from aggressive, drunken and drugged clients)
- Working at night
- Handling of money (risk of robberies)
Recommendations on policies include:
- Ensuring the maintenance and condition of delivery vehicles, for example are they: clean; tyres in good condition, head lights, brake lights and all other lights and indicators working properly
- Checking that engine’s oil and water level are within the appropriate limits
- Checking that all bike’s accessories such as horn, mirrors etc are in good working condition
- Ensuring that the insulated food carrying box is clean and closed properly
- Immediate reporting of any damage or malfunction of the bike
- Approval of helmets by the company’s health and safety officer
- Compliance by drivers of traffic laws and regulations and responsibility of drivers for any traffic violations
- Ensuring that the delivery route is decided before the driver leaves the shop
- Instructions in case of an accident: the driver must never let himself get involved in a dispute with the other party, never assume responsibility for the accident and only answer questions to police officers and his manager
- Maintenance of a log book by managers at each shop for all information related to drivers (personal details, complaints from customers, complaints from the public etc)
- Ensuring the competence of drivers to apply the necessary procedures regarding customer service and other company and restaurant policies is checked
- Instructions to avoid violence and robbery, for example: never handling money in public view parking in well light places; being aware of any suspicious persons; never entering customer’s houses or flats
- Instructions that if there is any indication that a delivery might endanger a driver it should not be carried out and that if a driver feels weary of a situation to inform the manager and leave the area immediately
- Instructions regarding what to do in the case of robbery, for example: remain calm; cooperate with the robber; try to make as many observations about the robber as possible
- Instructions to avoid unnecessary stops, for example: filling up with gas at the beginning of their shift; never taking on another passenger; never offering help unless it is an emergency
- Instructions on what to do if there is no answer at a place of delivery, for example, the driver must leave and inform the manager of the shop
- Instructions to wear uniforms / protective gear
- Instruction regarding the safe parking of bikes
- Instructions to shift managers to check vehicles, especially: tyres; oil and water; brakes; lights; indicators; horn; seat belts; mirrors; fenders; helmets and the chin clasp; any damage on the vehicles seat or bumper shields
- All accidents must be reported to the company Health and Safety Officer
- Instructions regarding assisting an injured person
- Instructions never to speed even if the order is late.
Safe behaving & driving instructions for the delivery bike rider:
- Crash helmet: should be certified, integral, tight-fitting.
- Special clothing: should be protective against mechanical (accidents) and adequate for the actual climate conditions. Leather and special fabrics are recommended.
- Gloves: not too thick, protective against mechanical abrasion (accidents) and climate conditions.
- Shoes: no shoelaces, slip-resistant, protective against mechanical abrasion (accidents) and climate conditions. Biking boots might be useful.
- Sunglasses might be useful.
- Do not drink alcohol.
- Do not ride if tired.
- Do not ride at dawn or at night; take breaks.
- Avoid heavy meals before/while riding.
- Wear clothing appropriate to the weather conditions.
- Do not use drugs.
- Do not take medicines that can cause sleepiness, or affect reflexes and senses.
- Do not take medicines without checking with a doctor whether they affect driving abilities.
- Consult a specialist if you think you are experiencing a high level of stress, feel depressed or get angry easily.
- Do not use mobile phones while riding (even with headsets: the reaction time decreases significantly). Stop for the call.
- Attend medical examinations provided by the employer.
In the event of a crash:
- If there is a risk of being crushed by the motorcycle, jump off the motorcycle.
- Relax your body – bone fracture is more likely if muscles are contracted while falling.
- Do not try to get off the bike while sliding on the road – you could be injured more badly while trying to get off.
In the traffic:
- Keep in the centre of the lane!
- Do not zigzag across the road
- If stuck in the jam, do not attempt to slip ahead between the stationery cars (they will not expect to see you and may move suddenly if the traffic ahead begins to move)!
- Always take extra care when entering a crossroads.
- Keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you!
- Keep to the speed limit!
- Be prepared for others to drive or ride unsafely!
- Signal a change in your direction in advance!
- Do not obstruct traffic trying to overtake!
- Regardless of weather conditions always drive with lights on – for your visibility.
- The important thing is getting to your destination in one piece. Leave enough time for your journey so you don’t have to hurry and take risks.
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