Although so much of the freight industry is automated, digitalised and tracked, there is still a huge demand for people to work as couriers to physically transport products to their destination. Couriers may drive all manner of vehicles ranging from small utes and vans to larger buses and trucks, but once they are loaded up and on the road they all face similar challenges.
Driver Behaviours on Our Roads
One challenge that faces not only couriers, but all people that use the roads as part of their day to day job, is the attitudes of other motorists they encounter on any given day. Couriers, as well as paramedics, taxi drivers and others are constantly having to navigate through traffic where driver education is clearly either lacking or wilfully neglected by less considerate commuters.
Melbourne’s network of freeways and main roads suffer from a categorical disregard of the ‘keep left unless overtaking’ rule, which despite being law on roads with a posted speed limit of 80km/h and above, is frequently ignored by the average motorists, to the frustration of couriers who spend a high proportion of the day on our roads.
One reason for the lack of regard for the keep left rule is due to the extremely low tolerances of speeding cameras. According to the RACV website, fixed speed cameras will only deduct 2km/h from a vehicle’s detected speed and a mobile camera will deduct 3km/h from a vehicle’s detected speed. Understandably this leads to more driver focus on their speedometer, and less focus on things like the fact that they are holding up traffic behind them, or changes in road conditions ahead.
In European countries drivers will increase speed to safely pass a slightly slower moving bus or truck, whereas Australian drivers (Victorian drivers in particular) will overtake at a far slower rate on a multi-lane road with the result being there is often little to no difference between the left and right-hand lane.
Unnecessary Delays for Couriers
Other challenges for couriers are things like road accidents, road closures and poor weather conditions. With modern technology being able to notify couriers of things like heavy traffic, couriers are still able to travel by the quickest route, but there is one phenomenon that sees traffic slow to a crawl on a freeway despite the road being clear of hazards – and this is when the accident or hazard is on the opposing side of the freeway and motorists travelling in the opposite direction simply slow down out of curiosity on their way past the scene.
Road rage is another challenge that courier drivers and actually all drivers encounter at one point or other. The trigger for this can be as minor as a motorist choosing to slow down and stop as a traffic light turns yellow whilst the car behind was intending to accelerate to make it through the intersection.
There are many community voices advocating for a higher level of driver education rather than an increase in speeding cameras. Couriers carrying out heavy pallet deliveries need to allow for greater stopping distances due to the increased weight of the delivery vehicle. An increased awareness of this would prevent other motorists from cutting off heavy pallet delivery vehicles as they approach traffic lights and reduce the risk of accidents that scenarios like this cause.