If you’ve ever driven a car or ridden a motorcycle on a short-term contract, chances are you’ve participated in the gig economy. In fact, millions of adults in the UK are now participants in the system as drivers and riders, whether they’re aware of it or not. But how can you and other road users stay safe?
What is the gig economy?
The term ‘gig economy’ is used to describe the 1.1 million people in the UK who work in a free market system in which temporary positions are common place. The gig economy is made up of three main components; the independent workers paid by the gig, the consumers who require a specific service or a particular item delivered; and the companies that connect the worker to the consumer.
For individuals working within the system, a job is usually for a specified period of time, whereby freelance and self-employed workers don’t get paid a salary but are paid per ‘gig’ or a ‘piece rate’.
How big is the gig economy in the UK?
The gig economy is by no means a new concept, but this past decade has seen it expand greatly. According to government data, in 2018 around 4.4% of the UK adult population had undertaken some work in the gig economy, equating to around 2.8million people.
One of the most common forms of gig economy work is providing transportation services. In London alone, it was reported that Uber had 45,000 active drivers registered with the app in 2018, and in 2017 the UK market was one of the largest in Europe with a reported 3.5 million users. Another example is Deliveroo, the popular courier service which reported back in 2018 that it had over 15,000 cyclists and motorists on their books.
Is the gig economy a good thing?
Many freelance workers find great benefit from working in the gig economy. Flexibility from being able to work the hours they desire, independence to complete their work in a way that suits them and have complete control over the hours they work.
Unfortunately, there are some downsides too. For most gig economy jobs, benefits aren’t part of the package because the worker isn’t a full-time employee. Working remotely can also prove challenging as the social aspects normally attached to a ‘9-5’ environment aren’t present.
Workers also have to be in regular work to find their next gig, or be prepared for changes in their current one. This can lead to stress, as most people appreciate feeling secure and steady in their employment.
The other caveat to this is of course is that self-employed personnel may not have access to the same level of support or training usually afforded to full-time members of staff. Regardless of this fact, self-employed road users still have responsibilities to take reasonable care of themselves and other people affected by their work activities and to co-operate with their employers in meeting their legal obligations, particularly in the case of riders and drivers.
In fact, more than a quarter of all road traffic incidents may involve somebody who is driving as part of their work. So, whether you’re a transport manager, a safety professional, a driver or rider, road safety is something that you can’t afford to ignore. Correct driver training is therefore vital and can result in significant benefits:
Occupational Advanced Driving Test (RoADTest)
RoSPA’s Occupational Advanced Driving Test is designed provide drivers with the tools they require for their job and to coach drivers so that they develop a systematic approach to driving. This flexible driving course is typically aimed at all those who drive for work purposes, and are therefore more likely to drive; to new locations, at peak times, thousands of business miles per year and whilst under pressure to respond to work-related phone calls.
Defensive Driver Development
Our Defensive Driver Development course is the perfect way to ensure you undergo continuous professional development, by building an efficient approach to hazards and defensive driving techniques and to minimise risk whilst driving.
This defensive driving course will help you manage the task of driving under all the associated pressures of being self-employed; staying safe, avoiding vehicle damage and coping strategies for when time is against you.
Advanced Motorcycle Training
Our Advanced Motorcycle Training course instructs riders in the theory and practice of safe systems of deliberate, responsible and admirable riding. Based on the ‘System of motorcycle control’ (as detailed in Motorcycle Roadcraft – The Police Riders Handbook), this four-day motorcycle training course teaches riders how to anticipate and control situations and be more observant, thereby reducing the likelihood of being involved in a road traffic accident.
In addition to our driver and rider training solutions, RoSPA also offers a wealth of online guidance aimed at helping self-employed gig economy workers, such as couriers and taxi drivers, stay safe on the road.
The main topics covered in RoSPA’s new guidance are the importance of maintaining bicycles and motor vehicles, how to avoid experiencing fatigue while on the road, and how to drive and ride safely in the dark.
The guide also provides advice and information for employers who use gig workers, on areas such as insurance, risk assessments and incentivising appropriate safety equipment and training.