Officials became concerned after they received a number of accident reports from the Pizza Hut restaurant chain, including one death and several serious injuries.
The reports were filed by mistake to the Health and Safety Executive, which does not cover road accidents, but officials believe they have discovered a loophole in health and safety law. Accidents involving delivery motorcyclists are not covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act, which gives the HSE power to investigate, but under the Road Safety Act. Accidents are reported to the police and Department of Transport.
The Road Safety Act does not distinguish between accidents involving drivers at work and those involving other motorists.
An HSE spokesman said yesterday that the Health and Safety Commission would propose that all road accidents involving people at work be reported under new health and safety regulations.
Eight serious accidents have been reported by Pizza Hut to the HSE this year. Riders for Domino's Pizza have been involved in 190 accidents since June 1991. One employee, a 25-year-old woman, was killed in a collision in Finchley, north London, last November.
Barry Sheerman, Labour's Home Affairs spokesman, called yesterday for a meeting between Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, Gillian Shephard, the Secretary of State for Employment, and John MacGregor, Secretary of State for Transport, to agree a method of compiling statistics for road accidents involving working drivers and motorcyclists.
Mr Sheerman said: 'There seems to be an enormous amount of these accidents. The pizza delivery figures are just the tip of the iceberg. These accidents should be reported to a designated body such as the Health and Safety Executive, which could take action. There are a lot of vulnerable youngsters who have very little experience driving, who are thrown into busy London traffic.'
Most pizza firms offer discounts if the delivery is late, which safety campaigners believe puts pressure on riders. Some companies offer free pizzas if delivery is late.
The largest firms, Perfect Pizza, Domino's and Pizza Hut, claim they tell their riders that 'no pizza is worth risking life and limb for'.Reuse content