WITH a swipe of your finger, your order of pizza, fried chicken and burgers will be at your doorstep within minutes. There is no need to get into your car, drive to your favourite restaurant, find a parking spot, spend another 15 minutes getting your order through before finally getting your meal.The proliferation of mobile delivery applications has made it super simple to order a meal. The flip-side to this means that we have truly become a nation of couch potatoes.But it is a win-win situation for the restaurants as well as online delivery companies.The restaurant increases sales while the delivery company gets a percentage. It is even simpler with large fast-food chains who cut out the middleman by employing their own delivery service and dealing directly with the customer.The sheer number of food delivery apps available here is mind-boggling. I counted 11 of them, including popular ones like GrabFood, dahmakan, Delivereat and Foodpanda. And more and more companies are getting on the bandwagon. But have you stopped to think about how your meal gets delivered to you?
The demand for these services has seen a spike in the number of delivery riders on Malaysian roads. They are literally everywhere.You would not have failed to notice them, with their bright green or pink or prominent fast-food logo delivery bags fastened to their back seats.We appreciate the services rendered by these delivery riders, rain or shine, to get our food to our doorsteps. But the risks they take while doing their job is very worrying.A friend recently sent me a viral video of a delivery rider beating a red light and getting hit by an oncoming vehicle in Damansara Perdana. Actually, there are a few such viral videos out there. I have also had two close calls with these motorcyclists.The most recent happened last week in my neighbourhood. The rider in front of me, slowed down, sped up and then swerved to the right. As this happened about 10m in front of me, I had a first-hand look at the motorcycle rider, even as I tried to stop myself from colliding with him. The rider was checking his handphone with one hand while manoeuvring his bike with the other.
Just like you would use GPS or Waze or any other navigation tool in your car, these riders do exactly the same thing. But unlike a typical ride hailing car driver, the motorcyclist has to rely on either a handphone holder attached to his bike or as is common, using the mobile device in one hand while navigating with the other.These near-encounters with e-hailing riders are becoming all too frequent for me. I doubt this is due to the neighbourhood I live in, but more likely the sheer number of these riders who are currently plying Malaysian roads.A friend of mine, who happens to be a CEO of a large restaurant chain, told me that about 12 to 15 of his food delivery riders die EVERY year.It’s a shocking statistic, and shows how much danger these riders put themselves and other motorists through when they take to the streets.
My friend instructed his delivery managers not to send out riders during heavy rain as the danger increases two-fold.The delivery riders are usually paid a basic hourly pay. They supplement this with a commission for every delivery made. The more trips made, the more money they make. Unfortunately, there are a number of bad apples who mar the image of those who abide by the law.Beating the red light, riding in a dangerous manner, using handphones while riding, these are just a few of the traffic violations committed daily.As the number of delivery riders increases, so does the number of traffic accidents.The onus should be on the food delivery provider to ensure that their employees adhere to traffic regulations. Perhaps these delivery riders should be given a fair monthly basic package and should not be incentivised to record more deliveries.
The commission structure can instead be tied to the performance of the company. At the same time, riders should be docked money for traffic offences or if the public report reckless behaviour.Ultimately, road safety should not be compromised. The safety of the riders and the safety of motorists in general should be of paramount importance.In the not-too-distant future road safety may not be an issue. We will probably be discussing air safety, as delivery drones take to the skies to bring us our favourite takeout right to our doorstep.