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Police, advocates urge delivery drivers to wear identification as safety concerns rise

35% of gig workers reported that they have felt unsafe while doing these jobs.
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Posted at 1:33 PM, May 20, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — In this tight economy, many people are using deliver side hustles to make some extra cash.

A Pew Research Center poll found 16% of Americans have made money using an online gig platform like ride-sharing companies as well as delivering groceries and meals.

35% of those workers reported that they have felt unsafe while doing these jobs.

WRTV Investigates Kara Kenney is digging into those safety concerns and what is being done to protect drivers and the community.

WRTV obtained doorbell video of a delivery driver with no identification walking up to a Carmel home at 4 a.m.

The driver dropped the package, took a picture and left.

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WRTV obtained doorbell video of a delivery driver with no identification walking up to a Carmel home at 4 am.


WRTV shared the video with D.J. Schoeff, Deputy Chief of Administration with the Carmel Police Department.

“It’s nighttime hours, after dark, and we’d hope that could be done during the day,” said Schoeff.

WRTV Investigates found it’s common for delivery drivers to drive an unmarked vehicle, wear regular clothes, and not wear a vest or any visible company identification.

“We would obviously like to have some sort of identification on someone,” said Schoeff.

It’s something Carmel Police receive calls about, and they welcome those calls.

“Sure, we get calls about suspicious vehicles, people in neighborhoods and we will respond to that and occasionally they turn out to be delivery drivers of some sort,” said Schoeff.

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D.J. Schoeff, Deputy Chief of Administration

Police say it’s possible bad actors may pose as delivery drivers to steal packages or worse, but officers do not want you to investigate it yourself.

“We would much rather get a call that they see something concerning or suspicious so we can address it ourselves,” said Schoeff. “If something doesn't seem right, we would much rather respond."

This month, a rideshare driver was carjacked and robbed near the 3200 block of N. California Street. A 16-year old was arrested in connection with the crime.

Just last month, deliver driver Adesina David Aderinwoye, was shot and killed after dropping off diapers in the 500 block of E. 42nd street.

WATCH | Family searching for answers after delivery driver shot and killed over the weekend

Family searching for answers after delivery driver shot and killed

No arrests have been made.

A recent report, Murdered Behind the Wheel, analyzed court records, media reports, and police reports and found at least 50 app workers were killed on the job between 2017 and 2022.

The national activist group Gig Workers Rising is concerned about safety.

Lead organizer Cesar Palancares recommends drivers wear identification.

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Lead organizer Cesar Palancares recommends drivers wear identification.

"I feel it would be a step forward in driver safety,” said Palancares.

Palancares helped us translate for Maria Maldonado, who drives for several companies including Uber, Lyft and Amazon.

Maldonado said she’s felt unsafe delivering packages.

"When you go to someone's property at 3 am it's pretty risky,” said Palancares.

Maldonado has also had scary encounters while driving for ride-sharing apps.

“The customer started yelling at her,” said Palancares. “He even tried to open the door while the car was moving. She felt really unsafe."

Gig Workers Rising is calling on companies to do more to protect workers.

WRTV Investigates reached out to Amazon, DoorDash and Uber to find out what they’re doing to improve safety.

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A delivery driver with no identification leaves a package on a doorstep in Hendricks County.

 

Uber did not respond to WRTV.

Amazon uses contracted workers called “Amazon Flex Delivery Partners,” and the company provides them with branded reflective vests, but it’s up to the driver whether to wear it.

“Safety is always Amazon's top priority and we continuously invest in protecting those who deliver on our behalf and community members,” read a statement from an Amazon spokesperson. “We're thankful that violent incidents are exceedingly rare across our network and we'll continue to work to improve safety outcomes because even a single incident is one too many."

DoorDash directed us to a website where drivers can buy car decals and shirts.

“Dashers are independent contractors,” a DoorDash spokesperson said in an email to WRTV. “They’re able to purchase whatever equipment they’d like, if they so choose, but it’s not required and totally depends on their own preferences.”

DoorDash also offers an in-app toolkit powered by ADT which offers drivers the ability to get emergency assistance quickly and will check in on a driver if they’re taking longer than expected.

“The overwhelming majority of deliveries on our platform – 99.99% – take place without any safety-related incident at all,” said a DoorDash spokesperson in an email to WRTV. “We have a dedicated 24/7 Trust & Safety team that investigates safety incidents and takes all appropriate actions, including reaching out to those involved, providing support and resolutions, and engaging with law enforcement.”

WRTV Investigates checked with Carmel Police and IMPD to see how many calls they receive related to delivery drivers, but their systems don’t track reports that way.

Tips to Protect Yourself

  • Don’t open the door
  • Ask drivers to leave packages, groceries or meals on the doorstep
  • Have things delivered during daylight hours if possible. Most apps offer a time window to choose
  • If you’re not sure someone near your home is where they belong, call police

"We'd rather come out, check it out, make sure everything is OK rather than respond in some sort of a tragic circumstance,” said Schoeff.
FULL STATEMENT FROM DOORDASH:

The overwhelming majority of deliveries on our platform – 99.99% – take place without any safety-related incident at all. We have a dedicated 24/7 Trust & Safety team that investigates safety incidents and takes all appropriate actions, including reaching out to those involved, providing support and resolutions, and engaging with law enforcement.

SafeDash is an in-app toolkit, powered by ADT, to help Dashers feel an even greater peace of mind. SafeDash offers a number of products and features aimed at helping Dashers stay even safer on the road:

  • Safety Reassurance Call: If a Dasher feels unsafe, they can quickly connect with an ADT agent directly through the app. ADT will remain on the line until the Dasher feels safe, and escalate to 911 if needed. 
  • Emergency Assistance Button: Dashers can easily swipe a button in SafeDash, prompting ADT to contact 911 on the Dasher’s behalf. ADT can share critical information with emergency services and discreetly remain in touch with the Dasher via text message. 
  • SafeDash Check-In: If we detect that a dash is taking longer than expected, we’ll automatically check in to see if the Dashers is okay. If they take a long time to respond or feel unsafe, an ADT safety agent will call them and escalate to 911 if necessary. 
  • Real-Time Safety Alerts: In the event of an emergency – like a natural disaster – we can quickly alert Dashers, customers and merchants about the incident and suspend operations in the area. 
  • SafeChat+ [about.doordash.com]: If our AI technology detects inappropriate or offensive language in a chat via our app, the person who sent the message will receive a warning. Dashers can unassign from deliveries where SafeChat has flagged this type of language without penalty. 
  • Safety Reporting: If a customer makes a Dasher feel unsafe, they can immediately report it via in-app chat or call for investigation. They can also block future deliveries made to that customer in the future. 
  • Porch Light Reminders: We send notifications to customers asking them to turn their porch or house lights on as the Dasher is approaching.