Delivery bikes wreak havoc on South African roads

Some fast food and grocery delivery drivers in South Africa could be unlicensed, and the pressure of the job can lead them to take chances on the roads, endangering their lives and the lives of others.

Speaking to 702, Motorcycle Safety Institute of South Africa founder Hein Jonker raised concerns over the training delivery riders receive and whether some are legally licensed to ride in the country.

While he said he couldn’t comment on whether authorities had the capacity to check that all riders were licenced, he believes the onus is on employers to vet their riders.

“Some of these riders are not local, they’re foreign riders, and in other African countries, they may not have gone through a motorcycle licence test or any motorcycle training; they’ve learnt from their friends,” said Jonker.

“In some countries in Africa, if you go for a motorcar licence, anything below that vehicle class you are licensed to ride, be that a scooter or a motorcycle.”

“That doesn’t mean that they’ve gone through a physical test. No, they come to this country with a licence that includes a motorcycle licence and off they go,” he added.

He recommended that one way to address these concerns would be for law enforcement authorities to collaborate and set up more roadblocks to check delivery rider licences.

Jonker explained that the pressure of the job can also add to poor road behaviour from such drivers.

Fast food and grocery delivery drivers are often pressured to make deliveries as quickly as possible to maximise their earnings.

Some services also offer delivery guarantees, adding to the pressure on drivers.

“If you put a person under pressure that might not have been riding a motorcycle where he or she comes from under that kind of pressure, something’s got to give,” said Jonker.

He said drivers don’t manage risk appropriately and compromise regarding safety aspects like securing their helmets correctly in pressure situations.

“Do they take chances through traffic? Yes, they do. So, something gives and when something gives, risk is increased dramatically and then you see things go wrong in traffic,” he added.

Jonker said the length of training required for a motorcycle rider to be considered safe on the roads depends on the person but estimates an average of five days.

“Most motorcycle training programmes can last a couple of days, it really depends on if he or she has ridden a bicycle before, if they have a good understanding or comprehension of the rules of the road,” he said.

“I would say a good effective training programme should be about five days, where they can go from range training where there’s no interference of traffic or other elements, to on-the-road training in the environment he or she will be riding in.”

MyBroadband asked Uber, Mr D, Checkers Sixty60, PnP asap!, and Spar 2U for details on their vetting processes for delivery riders.

Mr D said its drivers are independent contractors who all hold valid driver’s licences.

It added that it monitors each rider’s licence expiration date on their platform. Drivers with expired licences are removed until they can prove compliance again.

Mr D’s parent company, Takealot, did not comment on their vetting process.

However, it said it recently launched its Delivery Team Last Meter Driver Development Programme, which trains South African citizens interested in working in the on-demand delivery space.

“The programme intends to onboard 2,000 drivers who will join the Takealot Franchise Network within five years,” Mr D said.

“Drivers can work full-time or part-time and receive free training with the opportunity for further development.”

Uber also declined to answer specifically, saying that it and Uber Eats have several processes that drivers and delivery people need to complete before they can gain access to the platform.

Checkers Sixty60, Pick n Pay asap!, and Spar 2U did not comment by publication.

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Delivery bikes wreak havoc on South African roads