If you are currently working as a pizza delivery driver or considering such a job, you might wonder, “Is pizza delivery dangerous?” Perhaps surprisingly, pizza delivery is ranked high on the list of dangerous jobs in this country. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a pizza delivery driver is at a higher risk of injury and death than a construction worker or police officer. While most pizza delivery drivers are hurt and killed in traffic accidents, many others are attacked, assaulted and even shot while out on delivery.
If you get hurt on the job, you could qualify for compensation that can help pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. Morgan & Morgan can be here for you. Contact us now for a free review to determine whether you have a case.
Pizza Delivery Is Dangerous
According to the BLS, 334 delivery drivers (transporting food and goods) lost their lives from 2015 to 2019. While most fatalities resulted from transportation accidents, almost 17 percent occurred due to intentional injuries in an assault, robbery, or homicide.
Pizza delivery may be a more dangerous job than the available statistics suggest. According to Law Enforcement Today, two Indiana based pizza restaurants failed to report the shooting and killing of two pizza delivery drivers only months apart in 2019. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the restaurants for failing to report work-related deaths. Employees deserve to know the risks and dangers when taking on a pizza delivery job. Since there could be many more unreported deaths, the official figures may be misleading.
Intentional Violence Against Pizza Delivery Drivers
Delivery drivers can be at risk from violent attacks and robberies. Examples of violence against pizza delivery drivers:
- A Domino pizza delivery driver was kidnapped, robbed, and sexually assaulted at gunpoint while delivering pizza in a California Bay Area suburb in 2015.
- A 19-year-old Jets pizza driver was shot while delivering pizza in Detroit.
- In 2015, a pizza delivery driver was attacked with a knife and left for dead at the scene in Louisville, Kentucky.
- In 2018, a Domino pizza delivery driver was shot multiple times while delivering pizza in Midtown Detroit.
- A New Orleans Domino pizza delivery driver was shot dead on the job in 2015.
There are countless other cases of pizza delivery drivers getting hurt or killed while simply doing their job. Some employers of pizza drivers have taken steps to try and protect their employees, such as sending armed escorts with their drivers. Others have suspended delivery in some high-crime areas at night. Some even encourage their drivers to carry weapons. However, despite the well-documented risks for pizza delivery drivers, adequate safety training is often lacking.
Employers Should Steps to Protect Pizza Drivers From Violence
According to OSHA, employers must ensure that the work environment is free from hazards and reasonably safe. OSHA can and does issue citations for serious injuries or pizza delivery driver fatalities.
There are steps employers can take to increase delivery driver’s safety, such as:
- Using caller ID for food deliveries to determine the location of customers
- Keeping records of customers, orders, and phone numbers
- Displaying a sign on the vehicle stating drivers carry limited cash
- Encouraging customers to pay by debit or credit card
- Using GPS for easy location of endangered drivers
- Installing internal surveillance and dash cameras in vehicles
- Furnish drivers with a cell phone they can use to call for help
- Avoid late-night deliveries in high-crime areas
- Discouraging drivers from carrying weapons that could be used against them
Employers should also provide safety training for pizza delivery drivers so they know how to act in a dangerous situation.
Delivering Pizza During the COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19 and the various stay-at-home orders in recent years have led to a surge in food delivery sales. While many employees were encouraged and able to work from home, delivery drivers and other essential workers did not have this luxury. Dealing with countless delivery customers during a single shift, and having limited opportunities for personal hygiene, can put delivery drivers at risk of contracting COVID-19.
What Are the Risks for Pizza Delivery Drivers?
There is no doubt that delivery drivers, the unsung heroes of the pandemic, are putting their health at risk. Reasons why pizza delivery drivers can be more prone to contracting COVID-19 include:
Drivers Lack Adequate Personal Protective Equipment
Delivery drivers are not considered high-risk employees such as hospital workers, who may be exposed to patients with COVID-19 daily. Therefore, employers might not see the need to provide drivers with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Drivers Cannot Practice Hand-Hygiene
While drivers are delivering pizzas, they may have little to no opportunity to wash their hands between customers. Moreover, delivery vehicles may not be properly sanitized or cleaned between shifts.
Drivers Are Tired and Overworked
Pizza drivers may have several jobs, work long shifts, and spend hours on the road. Overworking and fatigue put drivers at risk for car accidents and can also lead to slip-ups, such as forgetting to sanitize hands regularly.
Contracting COVID-19 is a concern for all those in close contact with others, including delivery drivers. Social distancing may be impossible. Moreover, frequent interactions with restaurant staff when receiving and loading orders and interactions with customers can increase the risk of catching COVID-19 considerably.
Employers Should Take Steps to Protect Drivers From COVID-19
COVID-19 has added another risk to pizza delivery drivers’ already hazardous job; the very real risk of getting infected with a potentially deadly illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pizza restaurants should develop COVID-19 health and safety measures to protect and educate delivery drivers. In addition, employers should:
- Develop procedures allowing drivers to deliver pizza and take payment contactless
- Help drivers access information about COVID-19 and its spread
- Encourage drivers to stay home if they are sick and experience symptoms
- Encourage the use of hand sanitizer and other appropriate cleaning products
Legal Protections for Drivers May Be Limited
Unfortunately, legal protection may be minimal when a delivery driver gets sick with COVID-19 and suffers damages or permanent health effects. Drivers who work as independent contractors may have no right to paid sick leave and could lack adequate healthcare coverage. Companies can claim that they are not responsible for contractors. Moreover, some drivers may be employees under the law but miscategorized as independent contractors, and therefore unable to access their rightful benefits from the workers’ compensation program.
While it can be tough to prove that you caught COVID-19 at work, you could potentially have a claim against your employer if they did nothing to keep you safe. Consider speaking to a personal injury attorney to learn about your legal rights.
Pizza Delivery Traffic Accidents
The majority of pizza delivery driver deaths and injuries occur in traffic accidents. Sometimes, accidents are caused when delivery drivers are under pressure to make fast deliveries. Drivers want to ensure the pizza gets to the customers quickly and hot. Not doing so could result in complaints, jeopardize their job, or reduce tips.
Moreover, some companies offer incentives for fast deliveries, and a delivery driver making a lot of deliveries can make more tips. Therefore, pizza delivery drivers are generally motivated to drive fast or work excessive hours. As a result, accidents can happen due to:
- Failing to yield
- Failing to obey traffic signs and signals
- Driving distracted
- Driving fatigued
Who Pays for Your Damages After an Accident?
Getting a settlement can be challenging if you experience an accident with a pizza delivery driver. Drivers often use their own vehicles when making deliveries. Unless they have car insurance covering commercial use of their vehicle, delivery drivers may not have coverage for accidents that happen on the job. However, the pizza restaurant may be legally responsible for your damages if the driver was acting as an employee at the time of the crash.
Food delivery accident cases can get complex and could involve several liable parties. Moreover, if the driver is classified as an independent contractor, the company may deny all liability. An attorney from our firm can assess your case and determine your options for recovering damages.
What Employers Can Do to Make Pizza Deliveries Safer
Employers can help to keep their drivers and others safe on the road. They should only hire drivers with a good, clean driving record. Drivers should be adequately insured either via their own or the company’s insurance. Pizza restaurants should consider providing their own fleet of vehicles for pizza delivery drivers, ensuring all cars are comprehensively insured and in good condition. Employers must not rush drivers or offer incentives based on speed and volume of deliveries. Instead, companies should consider offering rewards for safe and responsible driving.
What Pizza Delivery Drivers Can Do to Stay Safe
Pizza delivery drivers also play a big part in keeping themselves and others safe. To reduce the risks of becoming an accident or crime victim, consider the following tips:
Driving according to the law and within the speed limit can be an excellent way to stay safe. Moreover, you should regularly maintain your vehicle to limit the potential for accidents from car defects.
Watch Your Step
Pizza drivers tend to be busiest in the evening hours and in darkness. Make sure to look out for any tripping hazards when delivering pizzas.
Do Not Carry Cash
Only carry a minimal amount of cash to avoid becoming the target of robberies. Ensure to keep any money away from plain sight and concealed.
Check Your Surroundings
Parking close to the delivery site is always advisable. Stay aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel unsafe or threatened.