UAE delivery boom leads to surge in motorcycle accidents, study says

Campaigners urged drivers to be careful when around vulnerable riders

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A boom in home deliveries has led to more motorcycle crashes on the UAE's roads.

Doctors in Dubai and Abu Dhabi said they have regularly seen riders in emergency wards, with injuries ranging from scrapes and bruises to serious fractures.

The reports echo a recent study by Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority, campaign group RoadSafetyUAE and fleet management firm MiX Telematics, which recorded a 29 per cent rise in accidents involving motorbikes in 2019, compared with 2018.

Figures showed there were 244 motorbike collisions in 2019, up from 189 in 2018. Of last year's accidents, 121 were found to have been caused by the rider – up from 79 the previous year.

In 2018, 4,046 applications were made to ride a motorcycle in Dubai, rising to 5,787 a year later.

Motorists need to show a caring attitude towards them

Figures for 2020 are not yet available, but at an event earlier this month, Dubai Police said 12 drivers died during April alone, as delivery fleets swelled to cope with demand during the three weeks of movement restrictions.

Abu Dhabi doctors said they had seen a similar trend.

“I may see one or two serious injuries a month but my orthopaedic surgeon colleagues are seeing up to seven a month,” said Dr Venkata Kiran, a specialist at Bareen International Hospital in Mohamed bin Zayed City.

"Injuries are usually minor sprains or abrasions, but sometimes if the rider has come off at speed, concussion and broken bones are not uncommon."

Health insurance can be an issue for delivery drivers, as many only have the basic mandatory package, which may not cover post-accident physiotherapy.

“If it is a break and we need to operate it can be an expensive process,” said Dr Kiran.

“A damaged hand or finger can be managed but if they’ve broken a leg or suffered a concussion they will be off work for some time.

"Other drivers must be compassionate towards these riders."

Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE, said road users must work together to cut the accident rate.

"Motorbike riders are classified as vulnerable traffic participants," he said.

“This means other motorists need to show a caring attitude towards them.”

RoadSafetyUAE surveyed more than 200 riders from four major delivery fleets to assess safety attitudes in the survey.

Respondents described the daily risks they faced on the roads, with cars often pulling out unannounced, forcing them to dangerously swerve into traffic.

Of those asked, 78 per cent said other vehicles failed to indicate and 77 per cent said cars either cut in front or behind them leaving little space for manoeuvre.

However, the survey also found 75 per cent of riders admitted to driving aggressively to deliver orders on time.

Just half said customers were sympathetic to late deliveries.

A trial by MiX Telematics showed recording rider behaviour encouraged better road habits.

A pilot study of delivery riders who carried a "black-box" during their shift saw a reduction in breaches by 40 per cent.

Taking corners at speed fell by 66 per cent and speeding was also slashed by 69 per cent when riders knew their behaviour was being monitored.

"The everyday control of rider behaviour by technology is of utmost importance,” said Mr Edelmann.

"But the delivery customer must also be educated to care more for riders.”

A RoadSafetyUAE survey in 2017 found one in five delivery riders had been in an accident.