Struggling to meet growing customer demands, Istanbul's motorcycle couriers complain of the high risk of traffic accidents in the city.
They claim customer satisfaction polls and a "rating system," especially on online food delivery services, put their lives more at risk as businesses literally race to deliver food as quickly as possible. Otherwise, they lose "speed" points common on delivery websites and eventually, customers.
Çağdaş Yavuz, who heads an association of motorcycle couriers, says they do not want to be the reckless drivers in the city's traffic. "We definitely do not want to risk our lives for a delivery worth just TL 20 ($2.40) and don't want to disregard traffic safety rules," he told Demirören News Agency (DHA) Monday.
Emrullah Akgeyik, who has served as a courier for a restaurant for the past five years, says the danger is imminent. "I read an online comment that said people who drove faster than us, were now in the grave. This is definitely true," he said.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic led to a boom in online delivery services and stiff competition between restaurants for faster delivery aggravated the situation for couriers. In their race against time, some took to the sidewalks, to the chagrin of pedestrians, or crisscross fast-moving cars. "I am forced to drive everywhere, sometimes on the tram route, despite the risk of accident or being fined by the police. People often complain about the way we drive, but we have no other options," Akgeyik said.
Yavuz added that couriers make up 13% of all injuries and fatalities in traffic accidents across Turkey. "This is a dire figure, and we need immediate measures," he pointed out. One solution is "to remove the points system." "If companies lift the points systems, the pressure on us will be relieved. We only want to deliver safely, per safety rules," he says.
Emrah Karaman, another courier, says he lost several friends to accidents and some were seriously injured. "Customers press on for faster delivery and in turn, my boss forces me to drive faster," Karaman said. He complains a 30-minute delivery time imposed by some companies is particularly stressful for them.
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