- DoorDash launched a new in-app toolkit called SafeDash on Wednesday to provide additional security measures for Dashers, the term the company uses for its couriers. The feature includes a safety reassurance call and an emergency assistance button, according to a company blog post.
- SafeDash, which is powered by security firm ADT, will initially roll out in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco, and all DoorDash couriers in the U.S. will have access to this feature by the end of the year.
- These features are part of DoorDash's efforts to boost courier safety following an uptick in violence toward drivers that occurred during the pandemic.
DoorDash's newest features will help increase a sense of safety for couriers, some of whom have had to adjust their hours and carry weapons to protect themselves, NBC News reports.
In New York City, thefts of electric bikes, which many delivery drivers use, doubled in 2020, according to the New York Times. Couriers have since formed watch groups and New York City passed several laws in September to boost delivery worker protection, including one allowing workers to set a maximum distance per trip, but none directly addressed violence.
SafeDash provides couriers the ability to connect with an ADT agent, who will remain on the phone until the delivery worker feels safe, according to DoorDash's blog post. If a situation escalates and the worker "is unresponsive for a period of time," ADT will call 911 and request assistance to the worker's last known location, which will be based on GPS from the courier's smartphone.
Couriers will also be able to swipe a button if they are in need of emergency assistance, and ADT will contact 911 and remain in contact with the courier through text messaging — providing more discretion than a phone call. Information on the incident will be shared with DoorDash so the company can follow up and provide support later.
Making sure couriers feel safe will be an important for DoorDash to retain its fleet, especially as delivery companies contend with driver shortages following increased demand for services. A lack of delivery drivers has resulted in slower delivery times. Earlier this year, DoorDash told WCET that it has recommended customers switch to pickup to avoid the long waits.
Retention of gig workers can be particularly difficult, with turnover rates as high as 500%. Couriers who try to make the work a full-time job often don't make enough to make ends meet. According to the company's Q2 earnings release, less than 10% of DoorDash couriers reported they only completed food deliveries and were not seeking a full-time or part-time job outside of gig work. DoorDash claims a majority of its couriers use the app to supplement existing income. Over 75% of DoorDash delivery workers are students or have a part-time or full-time job, DoorDash CFO Prabir Adarkar said during the company's Q2 2021 earnings call.
During the second quarter, DoorDash employed over 3 million couriers, the company's earnings release showed. This was after the company saw its largest increase to its Dasher roster in the company's history, Adarkar said. Increasing its driver supply helped boost the company's adjusted gross profit by 96% during the quarter to $700 million, even though DoorDash had to increase its advertising spend to acquire these drivers, according to the company's earnings release.