The guidelines from RoSPA advise workers and employers on how to stay safe and fulfil their legal obligations

A new report from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has provided guidance to self-employed gig economy workers, such as couriers and taxi drivers, to help them stay safe while working on the road. Whether it is for individual workers or for the managers of a fleet of self-employed drivers or cyclists, the guide has advice on the importance of maintaining motor vehicles and bicycles, how to avoid experiencing fatigue while on the road and how to drive and ride safely in the dark.

The guide also includes legal reminders, such as avoiding using a handheld mobile phone while driving.

RoSPA quoted statistics estimating around 4.4% of the UK’s population have worked in the gig economy within the last 12 months, around 2.8 million people. The number of gig workers has doubled in the last three years, from 5% in 2016 to around 10% in 2019, according to research from University of Hertfordshire. Young people are more likely to work in the gig economy – the study showed that 60% of gig workers doing jobs at least once a week are aged between 16 and 34.

A great many of these gig workers provide transport or courier services, using their own car or a bicycle to provide a taxi service or deliver parcels or food. Since they are self-employed, they are not covered by the same regulations that ensure other drivers take regular breaks. Since their schedule is frequently irregular, gig workers are more at risk from fatigue and time pressures. Many need to respond to work messages while driving.

RoSPA’s guide has advice on self-employed drivers’ obligations and how they can ensure they are fulfilled.

Vehicle safety is an important part of safe driving. RoSPA has provided advice on how to perform vehicle safety checks. Safe loading is also included, to ensure that drivers don’t fall foul of vehicle weight checks.

Also included is route planning to avoid fatigue, fitness to drive advice and safe driving guidelines.

Nick Lloyd, head of road safety at RoSPA, said: “The nature of work is changing, with the growth of digital platforms giving rise to new ways of working beyond traditional shift patterns. With this in mind, safety advice must also keep pace.

“Driving is one of the most dangerous activities that most of us will ever do, and driving for work tends to be riskier than driving for private reasons. People who drive professionally are more likely to crash even after their higher mileages are taken into consideration.

“Our hope is that by providing tailored guidance to gig economy workers, we might be able to help avoid incidents on the road. We also want to see a move away from a relentless targets-driven culture which can lead to unsafe workloads, cause fatigue and result in collisions.”

For more information, read RoSPA’s factsheet here