From risk to resilience: Protecting India’s gig drivers

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The rise of delivery platforms

India has a history of convenience for food and household items. Over the last decade continued urbanisation and high smartphone penetration have presented an opportunity for Delivery platforms to scale.

Gig workforce dynamics

The complex operations of Delivery platforms have a critical dependence on highly productive, typically young, drivers. From a macro perspective, India has the largest youth population in the world; around 66% of the total population (more than 808 million) is below the age of 35.1 This gives rise to a challenge of underemployment which an estimated 7m address through flexible work with Delivery and other gig platforms.2

The gig profession largely appeals to those who see licensed driving as a skill that they can leverage to support themselves. There is a lifecycle to the driver journey that is typically driven by vehicle access. A driver may start on a 2 wheeler for Delivery at the age of 18 and then progress to a 4 wheeler in higher-paid Ridehail or as a chauffeur in their early to mid twenties as they contemplate starting their own family.

Economic challenges and driver retention

At all points the driver is at the mercy of road and weather conditions and is continually weighing up their economic opportunity with a gig platform (where they lack employee protections)3 vs employment. An average gig worker's salary can be around 18,000 INR,4 a discount to the 22,000 INR salary of the typical urban male in India.

As a result, Delivery and Ridehail platforms struggle with driver retention. Monthly churn is as high as 20%5 largely due to disappointment with income levels and security. The lack of any income protection means that vehicle or bodily damage renders the driver unable to work - a problem for both the driver and the platform. Driving risk is therefore intrinsically linked to the driver's wellbeing and ultimately the success of the platform. The “Road Accidents in India 2022”6 report, released in November 2023, said that the number of deaths reported in India due to road crashes in 2018 was 1,50,785 and it rose to 1,53,792 in 2021. 

Technological solutions for safety

A solution to this critical situation could emerge from the driver’s smartphone. Sentiance data-rich Motion Insights can detect harsh braking, acceleration, speeding, and distracted driving. Analysis of these insights reveals a driving score upon which an engagement layer can nudge the driver to behavioral improvements. Sentiance cutting edge work with clients like Talabat in MENA is detailed here.

In the event of an accident, Sentiance Crash Detection can ensure that the driver receives timely treatment to avoid untreated injuries escalating and the vehicle is quickly repaired for the driver to safely resume work when feasible. 

Future prospects: Insurance and security

Sentiance data-driven insights can allow insurers to write income protection and health policies for drivers, improving economic safety and addressing churn. In the near future data insights on driving risk could pave the way to life insurance for the 24m7 gig workers that India expects by 2029, bringing much-needed security to families and aligning well with India’s commitment to “Insurance for All” by 2047.8

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Sentiance is the leader in motion insights. Our mission is to save lives every day and shape the future of road safety. Unlike telematics companies, we focus on the driver and not the vehicle because most accidents are caused by human error.  

With our revolutionary on-device AI technology, companies use insights from The Edge Platform to produce scalable, cost-efficient, and privacy-centric solutions for their customers.


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