Police hit out at delivery companies after 12 drivers die on Dubai roads during Covid restrictions

Police captain says there was too much pressure on drivers with high demand for orders

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Twelve delivery drivers died in Dubai during April's Covid-19 night-time movement restrictions, a police official has revealed.

Captain Salem Al Amimi said there was no excuse for these deaths as the roads were empty at the time.

Speaking on Sunday at a road safety forum, the officer said the desire for profits had eclipsed safety as delivery companies put too much pressure on drivers when demand for orders surged.

Drivers were also being asked to carry large backpacks which can obstruct their view while driving, he said.

The situation has prompted police to consider introducing a special licence specifically for delivery drivers.

When money comes into the equation,
safety is put aside

"When money comes into the equation, safety is put aside," said Capt Al Amimi, at an online event organised by Road Safety UAE, an entity which works to raise awareness about traffic rules.

“There were 12 delivery rider fatalities on the road during the curfew and there is no excuse for this when they were the only ones on the roads.

“But the companies were under huge pressure as orders were coming in 24/7. They were pushing drivers to make deliveries but they couldn’t handle it.”

Restrictions on public movement were introduced in Dubai to curb the spread of Covid-19 earlier this year. People needed a permit to leave the house for a three-week period in April. Capt Al Amimi said the 12 deaths during the night-time movement restrictions period were caused by speeding and riders breaking traffic laws.

The restrictions were eased as Ramadan began, towards the end of April.

Male Bicycle delivery commuter with road bicycle in the city, using mobile phone to find customer location
Male Bicycle delivery commuter with road bicycle in the city, using mobile phone to find customer location

The police official was also critical of companies that make delivery riders carry heavy backpacks instead of storing the order in a box attached to the bike.

"Some of those backpacks are huge and lead to riders being unable to see the traffic behind them, in their side mirrors," he said.

“They are expected to ride motorcycles with these backpacks on their shoulders, but if the weight moves or shifts they lose control of the bike.”

Capt Al Amimi added that as a keen motorcyclist himself, he had an insight into the safety of riders.

“Most of the accidents that happened during the curfew involved losing control of bikes that then skidded into barriers,” he said.

“It is important that the bikes are maintained and riders are not pushing their lives to the limit.”

Dubai Police is now working with the Roads and Transport Authority to look at introducing a special licence meant only for delivery riders. This was welcomed by Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE.

“If you drive a truck or a bus, you need a special licence as a commercial driver," he said. "We are pushing to have the same for delivery riders as they are also commercial drivers."