Study finds that most food delivery riders don’t go all out when it comes to safety

Professor Narell Haworth. Credit: Queensland University of Technology

A Queensland University of Technology study that monitored and compared 3,401 food-delivery riders to bikes and private cyclists in Brisbane found that food-delivery riders generally take no more risks on the roads – despite the enormous time pressures imposed by the economy of temporary jobs and hungry customers.

The study, led by the QUT Center for Accident and Road Safety Research – Queensland (CARRS-Q), Risky Business: Comparing the riding behaviors of food delivery and private cyclists, was published in the November issue of Accident analysis and prevention magazine.

Researchers Dr Oscar Oviedo Trespalacius, Dr Elizabeth Ruby and Professor Narell Haworth AM looked at turning on a red light, wearing a helmet and using a mobile phone.

Their team of 13 monitors monitored sites in five inner Brisbane suburbs (South Brisbane, West End, Newstead, New Farm and Central Brisbane) during lunch and dinner times over six days last winter.

Despite media and public concern, the notes did not support the view that BFDRs [bicycle food delivery riders] engaging in more dangerous riding behaviors than individual riders.”

“Overall, 97.4% of riders were wearing helmets (99.3% of BFDRs vs. 93.4% of private riders), which is very positive given the safety benefits that helmets provide in the event of an accident or fall.”

The first author, Dr. Oviedo Trespalacius The research team still saw some risky behavior by private cyclists and bike food delivery riders (BFDRs) – but, overall, neither group was worse than the other.

“There has been tremendous growth in the economy of temporary jobs and home delivery – which has especially accelerated during the COVID-19 lockdowns, not only in Australia, but around the world,” he said.

“There is growing evidence that food delivery on push bikes or electric bikes is a high-risk road safety profession, as the pressures of work to get food quickly can encourage risky behaviour.

Credit: Queensland University of Technology

“But the results of our study indicate that carrying a bag of food does not make riders more likely to signal a red light, not wear a helmet or disregard other rules of the road.

“That doesn’t mean it’s all good news.

“We saw a lot of risky behavior among the 2,274 BFDRs and 1,127 private cyclists we observed in the inner suburbs of Brisbane during the day and at night.

“Overall, 24% of all riders who encountered a red traffic light or pedestrian signal did not stop. Whether the rider was a BFDR or a private rider, it had little direct impact on turning on the red light. Instead, riding the wrong way in a lane Traffic and switching The distance between the pedestrian lane and the road was more common among those who disobeyed the signals, and long wait times for the traffic light and bikes that did not fire the traffic lights were likely to encourage riders to cross in red, especially under time pressure.

Helmet wear was actually better among delivery riders – 99.8% of BFDRs were helmet-wearing, versus 93.4% of private riders, and men were more likely to wear a helmet than women.

“Most riders avoided using a mobile phone while riding, but mounts with mobile phones were very prevalent among BFDRs. It was very difficult for our observers to tell if the riders were touching their phones while commuting, but when they saw this, they were more likely to be food delivery passengers They interact more physically with their phones than with private passengers.”

The authors also found slight behavioral differences between delivery passengers who were hourly payroll employees, and those who were pay per job contractors. In particular, contractors were more likely to have a video phone than working riders.

“The results indicate that organizations that use BFDRs appear to manage passenger distraction better than companies that contract passengers,” the authors wrote.

A QUT study indicated that at least six food delivery passengers died in road accidents in Australia in 2020.

A food delivery safety task force was set up in NSW after the deaths that identified more than 80 serious accidents involving delivery passengers during 2019 and 2020. The task force’s conclusions included that the period between 4 pm and 8 pm was the worst time of danger, and contributing factors included In accidents exhaustion, time and emotional stress.

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more information:
Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios et al, Risky business: comparing the riding behaviors of food delivery and private cyclists, Accident analysis and prevention (2022). DOI: 10.1016 / j.aap.2022.106820

Presented by Queensland University of Technology

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