Joe talks to delivery drivers about the problems they face; from bad signage and missing house numbers to robbery and assault. Listen back above.
Delivery drivers have earned their place on the list of workers who helped keep the country going during COVID; along with medical staff, supermarket workers and many more. Speaking on Liveline, Joe Duffy says delivery drivers deserve to be appreciated for what they do, when he describes them as
"The unsung heroes in the new Ireland of the last, maybe, five years"
In the aftermath of the recent accident in Dublin which left one delivery cyclist João Henrique Ferreira with life-changing injuries, Joe spoke to current and former delivery drivers about some of the challenges they face, from bad signage and missing house numbers to robbery and even assault.
Freddie has been a delivery driver for three years. He says that the biggest nuisance is missing house numbers, especially on older houses. He's been on streets where none of the houses display numbers. It's very frustrating, he tells Joe:
"You’re just driving back and forth, trying to figure out which house is which."
Figuring out which doorbell to ring is bad enough in daylight, Freddie says, but at night, it’s almost impossible:
"When it’s night time, it’s even worse. Because even if they have numbers on there, very few people light them up – it’s very hard to see a number in the dark."
The newer estates are better, Freddie says. But there's another problem – design. In some estates, the colour of the numbers matches the colour of the bricks and this makes them hard to see; even during the day:
"Somebody thought that would be a beautiful design. You can’t see the numbers because they blend into the brick."
The layout of some estates can make things difficult, and even people who live in housing estates don’t always know where all of the individual streets are. Google maps helps in around 60% - 70% of cases, Freddie says, but it doesn’t always bring you to the individual street you are looking for:
"With newer estates, no. It’s even worse than that. In one estate that comes to mind it takes you to the main entrance and that’s it. It won’t go beyond the estate. So it’s a guessing game."
The Eircode system doesn’t entirely solve the problem, Freddie says. It’s great when it works, but there are some shortcomings, he says. It doesn’t pin-point the exact residence to the front door in every case, and not every vendor demands the customer include it in their order. Freddie has seen the occasional person display their Eircode on a plaque on their house, which he says is helpful.
Appartment buildings can be hard to navigate too, Freddie says:
"The new ones are a big problem because they have these fancy intercom systems, but they don’t tell you how to get through to the apartment you need to get through to."
Drivers usually have the customer's phone number on file, but if they can’t be reached on the phone, the driver has to battle with increasingly complicated keypad systems to get the householders’ attention:
"With the older ones, you just walk up, you see that you need to reach apartment 3; you hit number 3 – that’s it. The newer ones are more high-tech, so you need to be pressing codes and whatnot and bells and you don’t know which to press first – do you have to put a zero first, or an asterisk?"
Brendan Carroll used to deliver curries from 6pm to midnight in the pre-satnav and Google Maps era. He says he recognises many of the problems mentioned by Freddie, like poor signage and lack of house numbers. Brendan tells Joe that the numbering systems in housing estates can be weirdly counter-intuitive:
"You don’t know which way the numbers are going. Are they going odd on one side, even on the other, or one after the other? Or which end of the road are you on? Are you on the high numbers or the low numbers?"
Brendan was attacked a number of times while making deliveries. On one occasion, he says he was attacked by two people but managed to get away and he ran off and jumped into his brand-new car:
"I had to run like the clappers, got back to the car and I was just about to start the engine. I was literally after, I’d say about a month or two previous, I was after buying this car, brand spanking new – luckily enough it started immediately, and two nice concrete blocks came in at me from either side."
Brendan managed to get to safety, but he gave up delivering food after that, he says:
"I said that was it - no more delivering curries. It got too bad."
Joe took a moment to join with his guests in wishing a speedy recovery to 23-year old João Henrique Ferreira, the Brazilian-born delivery man who was badly injured recently in an incident on a slip road off the M50 near Tallaght. He was reportedly struck in a freak accident by a Garda car which had been called to the scene to recover João's stolen bike:
"To João Ferreira and all your colleagues from Brazil and all your colleagues in Deliveroo and all the other companies and your family, we wish you a speedy recovery."
You can hear the full segment from Liveline by clicking above, or go here for more clips from the show.