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Shanghai's delivery boom has led to an increase in road accidents

Something to keep in mind next time you're in the mood for delivery

Photograph: Clara-Maya via Creative Commons
We've all been there. You're minding your own business, waiting for the crosswalk light to turn green, and when it does, you step out into the road only to nearly be run over by a motorbike coming seemingly out of nowhere. In the first half of 2019, there have been a total of 325 road accidents in Shanghai involving delivery drivers, ballooning from 117 in all of 2017, according to Sina Finance.

More than 80 percent of these accidents are linked to food delivery drivers working for companies like Ele.me and Meituan, Technode reports. The increasing demand for delivery is causing more and more drivers to take to the roads (an uptick of 50 percent since 2016, totaling more than 3 million), pressured by tight time limits and customer complaints. Parcel delivery drivers can make up to one hundred deliveries a day, while food deliveries total around 30 to 40.

According to a questionnaire distributed by assistant professor Ge Tianren of Tongji University's School of Political Science and International Relations, many drivers report working more than ten hours a day. While speedy deliveries translate to positive customer reviews and therefore higher pay, late or unsatisfactory deliveries can lead to negative reviews and fines.

Despite the increase in demand, wages for delivery drivers have not increased. In fact, for many, it is the opposite. Whereas deliveries were worth about seven yuan each a year ago, now they are worth only five or six. Shanghai is ranked as having the second-highest number of delivery drivers in China, according to the 2018 Courier Group Insight Report released by The First Financial Data Center (CBNData) and Suning Tesco.

It's clear how the pressures of the job can lead delivery drivers to disregard traffic laws in the rush to satisfy the 30-minute delivery time that companies like Ele.me and Meituan promise. Unfortunately, this results in accidents that endanger not only drivers but pedestrians as well.

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