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Gig Worker Safety in Question After Recent Attacks On Drivers

Bynewsmagzines

May 2, 2023
Gig Worker Safety in Question After Recent Attacks On Drivers

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In mid-April, three gig workers fell victim to violent crime in Florida: a woman was kidnapped and sexually assaulted after making a Doordash delivery, a couple’s car was shot at after turning onto the wrong driveway attempting to drop off an Instacart order, and a man was murdered after making an Uber Eats delivery.

While the news is unsettling, for some gig workers, feeling unsafe is an increasing concern.

“The safety of drivers and couriers is a top priority, and we’ll continue investing in critical safety features like the ability to chat with a live safety agent, record trip audio in the app in nearly 150 U.S. cities, and share their trip with loved ones,” a spokesperson for Uber told Entrepreneur.

Roberto Moreno, who formerly worked for GrubHub and Postmates in San Diego County, told the AP Monday that he stopped working for ride-sharing and delivery services altogether due to concerns for his safety.

“We have to look out for ourselves because the companies don’t do it,” he told the outlet.

Moreno also noted the disparity between verification needed from drivers and riders. Drivers are required to submit a selfie, get background checks, and give other personal information, but when it comes to riders, “we don’t know anything about the passengers or the people who we’re delivering to,” he said.

Related: DoorDash Employee Says Customer Pulled Knife on Her During Creepy Delivery: ‘I Just Want Some Human Contact’

Gig Workers Rising, an activist group fighting for the safety and protection of gig workers, found that 80 app-based workers had been killed while on the job between 2017 and 2022 — with 31 murdered in 2022 alone, signifying an increase in violence. The report was based on press releases, police records, and court documents.

“App workers worldwide are grappling with a business model and workplace practices that leave them facing an unparalleled and racialized health and safety crisis,” the organization wrote in the report.

In 2021, NBC News spoke to 15 gig workers — all of which said they often “feared for their safety,” and that it seems as though violence spiked during and following the pandemic.

That same year, Uber rolled out new safety measures to protect drivers such as thorough verification for riders who use untrackable payment options like gift cards. Last fall, the company implemented more safety features such as freezing rider accounts that appear fake or offensive, the option to video record the ride using the front-facing camera, as well as recording audio during a trip.

“We’ve designed these new features to provide more peace of mind when driving and delivering,” the company wrote in the release.

Still, among all the gig-driven apps, Uber had the most instances of workers killed in 2022 at 39% of total crimes, according to the report from Gig Workers Rising.

In regard to the report by Gig Workers Rising, Uber noted that the death of Milton Pillacela Ayora (which was attributed to Uber in the report) was not connected to the Uber platform, and that another recorded death, Michael Wallace, was in 2018 but still included in the most recent report.

Related: Uber Courier Drivers Are Concerned Their Cars Are Being Used to Move Drugs

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