UAE pizza boss moves to make delivery riders’ work safer

Road safety experts have welcomed a new initiative to keep motorcycle delivery drivers safe on the road, particularly as the pressure to make deliveries often leads to unsafe driving.

The motorbike safety campaign Safety Delivered involved asking delivery drivers about those who are important in their lives. They received helmets with pictures of their family members with phrases such as “I am a son” and “I am a father”. Antonie Robertson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Road safety experts welcomed a company initiative to protect motorcycle delivery riders, particularly because the pressure to make timely deliveries can lead to unsafe driving.

Safety Delivered, which started with 125 drivers, was launched last week by UAE pizza delivery company Freedom Pizza to promote a strong safety culture among its staff.

Each driver is asked to sign a pledge that they carry with them on the road and, when they leave for a delivery, they call out “I will drive safe” as a constant reminder.

“I admire the safety precautions taken by Freedom Pizza and they should be the model for all delivery personnel,” said Michael Dreznes, executive vice president of the International Road Federation, a not-for-­profit group that promotes the development and maintenance of better, safer and more sustainable roads.

“However, the pressure to deliver a product in a certain time span is a bad idea.

“Delivery drivers will break the laws if they are pressured to ­deliver on time – even if they have signed an ‘I will drive safe’ document – if the consequences of a late delivery are worse than the consequences of ­unsafe driving.

“Will they lose their job or their tip if the delivery is late? What are the consequences of unsafe driving for a delivery ­person?”

The Safety Delivered initiative aimed at tapping into people’s mindsets and behaviour on and off the roads, because these drivers work for a greater purpose – to support their families and provide a better future for their children, said Ian Ohan, Freedom Pizza’s founder and chief executive.

“We don’t have a guarantee for delivery time,” he said.

“We work efficiently in the stores so our drivers don’t have to rush on the road.

“If the delivery is going late ­already, the driver could never be held responsible for delivery being late.

“We would never penalise our drivers for a late delivery.

“The emphasis is not on how fast you can drive the pizza to the person but on making sure the pizza leaves in good quality and on time from the store.”

Under UAE labour laws, employers must equip employees with adequate means of protection from injuries that might occur during work.

“The drivers tend not to want to wear safety gear,” Mr Ohan said. “I bought them safety gear but they didn’t want to wear it because it’s hot. Safety is a mandatory part of our business and if drivers don’t want to wear the equipment, they will not work for us.

“We want to remind our drivers that no delivery is more important than their own personal safety or the safety of anyone else on the road.”

Delivery drivers were asked who were important in their lives, and were given helmets with pictures of their family and words such “I am a son” and “I am a father”. The aim was to remind the drivers that they have people counting on them to be safe.

The second part of the campaign was to build a safety culture in the community and for people to be mindful of delivery drivers on the roads, said Mr Ohan, a father of three and an avid biker.

Dino Kalivas, chairman of the International Road Federation’s driver education and training committee, said social road safety initiatives have merit.

“They attempt to personalise road safety and promote the concept that, as road users, we can empower others to be more aware of the risks, dangers and consequences involved for drivers, cyclists, passengers, pedestrians, motorcyclists and their families and friends,” he said.