If you work as a pizza delivery driver or are considering it, you might be wondering about the potential risks involved. Surprisingly, pizza delivery is ranked as one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), pizza delivery drivers face a higher risk of injury and even death compared to construction workers or police officers. While traffic accidents account for the majority of injuries and fatalities, there are also cases of drivers being attacked, assaulted, and shot while on delivery.
The Hazards of Pizza Delivery
Between 2015 and 2019, 334 delivery drivers transporting food and goods lost their lives, according to the BLS. While most deaths were a result of transportation accidents, nearly 17% were due to intentional injuries from assaults, robberies, or homicides. However, the official figures might not tell the whole story. For example, two pizza restaurants in Indiana failed to report the shooting and killing of two pizza delivery drivers within months of each other in 2019. This suggests that there may be more unreported deaths, making the actual risks of the job higher than what the statistics indicate.
Violence Targeting Pizza Delivery Drivers
Pizza delivery drivers are at risk of violent attacks and robberies while on the job. Here are some examples of violence against pizza delivery drivers:
- In California, a Domino’s pizza delivery driver was kidnapped, robbed, and sexually assaulted at gunpoint while delivering pizza in a Bay Area suburb in 2015.
- In Detroit, a 19-year-old Jets pizza driver was shot while making a delivery.
- In Louisville, Kentucky, a pizza delivery driver was attacked with a knife and left for dead at the scene in 2015.
- In Midtown Detroit, a Domino’s pizza delivery driver was shot multiple times while delivering pizza in 2018.
- In New Orleans, a Domino’s pizza delivery driver was shot dead on the job in 2015.
These are just a few instances of the many cases where pizza delivery drivers have been harmed or killed while simply doing their job. Some employers have taken steps to protect their drivers, such as providing armed escorts or suspending deliveries in high-crime areas at night. However, adequate safety training is often lacking.
Employers Must Prioritize Driver Safety
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers have a responsibility to ensure a safe work environment for their employees. Measures that can be taken to increase delivery driver safety include:
- Using caller ID to determine the location of customers for food deliveries.
- Keeping records of customers, orders, and phone numbers.
- Displaying a sign on the vehicle indicating that drivers carry limited cash.
- Encouraging customers to pay by debit or credit card.
- Using GPS for easy location tracking of drivers in potentially dangerous situations.
- Installing internal surveillance and dash cameras in delivery vehicles.
- Providing drivers with a cell phone to call for help if needed.
- Avoiding late-night deliveries in high-crime areas.
- Discouraging drivers from carrying weapons that could be used against them.
Employers should also provide proper safety training to ensure that pizza delivery drivers know how to respond in dangerous situations.
Pizza Delivery During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional risks to the already hazardous job of pizza delivery drivers. With the surge in food delivery sales and limited opportunities for personal hygiene, drivers face an increased risk of contracting the virus.
Risks for Pizza Delivery Drivers
Delivery drivers, the unsung heroes of the pandemic, put their health at risk due to several factors:
- Lack of Personal Protective Equipment: Delivery drivers are not considered high-risk employees like healthcare workers who are in daily contact with COVID-19 patients. As a result, employers may not see the need to provide drivers with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Inability to Practice Hand Hygiene: Drivers often have limited opportunities to wash their hands between deliveries. Additionally, delivery vehicles may not be properly sanitized or cleaned between shifts.
- Fatigue and Overwork: Many pizza drivers work long shifts and spend hours on the road, which can lead to fatigue and increase the risk of accidents. Overworking can also result in forgetfulness regarding regular hand sanitization.
Maintaining social distancing can be challenging for delivery drivers, as they have frequent interactions with restaurant staff, customers, and others involved in the delivery process.
Steps to Protect Delivery Drivers from COVID-19
Pizza restaurants should develop and implement COVID-19 health and safety measures to protect and educate delivery drivers, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Employers can take the following steps:
- Develop procedures for contactless delivery and payment.
- Provide drivers with information about COVID-19 and its spread.
- Encourage sick drivers to stay home and seek medical attention.
- Promote the use of hand sanitizer and appropriate cleaning products.
Limited Legal Protections
Unfortunately, when delivery drivers get sick with COVID-19 and suffer damages or long-term health effects, legal protections may be limited. Independent contractors, who make up a portion of delivery drivers, may not have access to paid sick leave or adequate healthcare coverage. Companies may argue that they are not responsible for independent contractors’ well-being. Additionally, some drivers may be misclassified as independent contractors when they are, in fact, employees entitled to benefits through workers’ compensation programs.
Speaking to a personal injury attorney can help drivers understand their legal rights and explore potential claims against their employers.
Pizza Delivery Traffic Accidents
The majority of injuries and deaths suffered by pizza delivery drivers occur in traffic accidents. Pressure to make fast deliveries, incentives for speedy service, and the need for customer satisfaction can contribute to drivers’ motivation to drive aggressively or work excessive hours. Consequently, accidents can happen due to speeding, failure to yield, failure to obey traffic signs, distracted driving, and driving while fatigued.
Damages and Liability After an Accident
Receiving compensation for damages after an accident with a pizza delivery driver can be challenging. Delivery drivers often use their own vehicles, and if they lack car insurance covering commercial use, they may not have coverage for on-the-job accidents. However, if a driver was acting as an employee at the time of the crash, the pizza restaurant may be legally responsible for the damages.
Food delivery accident cases can be complex and involve multiple liable parties. If a driver is classified as an independent contractor, the company may deny any liability. Seeking guidance from a personal injury attorney can help navigate the legal process and determine options for recovering damages.
Making Pizza Delivery Safer
Employers and delivery drivers both have a role to play in ensuring safer pizza deliveries.
Employers can contribute to driver safety by:
- Hiring drivers with clean driving records.
- Ensuring drivers are adequately insured, either through their own insurance or the company’s insurance.
- Providing a fleet of vehicles for delivery drivers, with comprehensive insurance and proper maintenance.
- Avoiding rushing drivers or offering incentives based on speed and volume of deliveries.
- Promoting safe and responsible driving through rewards and recognition.
Driver Safety Tips
Pizza delivery drivers can also take steps to protect themselves and others:
- Drive safely and within the speed limit.
- Regularly maintain the vehicle to minimize the risk of accidents caused by mechanical issues.
- Be aware of potential tripping hazards when delivering pizzas, especially in the evening and in darkness.
- Carry a minimal amount of cash and keep it concealed to reduce the risk of robberies.
- Park close to the delivery site and be vigilant of surroundings. If feeling unsafe or threatened, leave the area.
By working together, employers and delivery drivers can create a safer environment for everyone involved in pizza delivery.
Remember, if you love pizza, supporting your local pizzerias and delivery drivers is essential. Hook’d Up Bar and Grill is a great example of a restaurant that values the safety and well-being of its delivery drivers.