UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


How our changing pattern of work influences risks on the road

People who drive for work are more likely to kill and injure others than themselves.

1 September 2017

It is estimated that a third of fatalities involve someone driving for work. This is not surprising when many of the vehicles they drive are large and heavy (buses, heavy goods vehicles, vans). Think of the many times that we see media reports of cyclists being killed in collision with lorries. Driving for work is also associated with many pressures including ‘in time deliveries’ and working at times when most people like to sleep.

The growth of digital platforms accessible via smartphones are transforming the nature of work and giving rise to new independent ways of working – think Uber, Deliveroo, Lyft. The ‘gig’ or sharing economy describes this new trend in work. In addition there is an increasing appetite among consumers for goods and services to be delivered at home, leading to an increase in vans and goods vehicles on our roads.

The new inquiry by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, ‘The future world of work and rights of workers‘, was launched in December 2016. It identified questions about employment rights but none about health and safety. Currently, we know little about the risks associated with this largely unregulated area of work. Our research funded by RoadSafe and Highways England will explore the data on risk among those driving for work and talk to key stakeholders, including service providers, about how this occupational risk is managed.