On Super Bowl Sunday, the only thing faster than a wide receiver will be the kid with the funny hat who delivers your pizza. But auto insurers worry about him or her probably more than any other driver.
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For one thing, pizza store owners hire drivers as young as 18 -- hardly the age of responsibility, at least according to statistics, which show car crashes to be the leading cause of death for teens.
Delivery drivers of any age may be on the road in a "beater" of a car that's secondhand at best. And they're whizzing along, glancing down at directions or using a cellphone while hoping to make the maximum in tips to supplement the minimum in wages.
Sound like an accident waiting to happen? Not if insurance companies have anything to say about it - and they have.
'30-minute' delivery guarantee is gone
If you want to know why the "30 minutes or it's free" guarantee that pizza chains used to promise is gone, blame it on people like Craig Simpkins, a risk services consultant with Fireman's Fund. Simpkins likes pizza as much as anyone. But he and other property casualty insurance employees have forced chains like Domino's to take down their 30-minute guarantee signs because drivers tended to put the pedal to the metal, making them more dangerous.
"We stopped that," says Simpkins.
Now, a checklist has replaced the fast-delivery guarantees. Pizza managers insured by Fireman's Fund have to do a twice-yearly inspection of vehicles (including tires, brakes and lights) and drivers. A driver's license, registration and insurance are checked, along with driving records. Some companies even give defensive driving courses and "shadow" their drivers on deliveries to make sure the drivers are handling the wheel responsibly.
There's a big incentive for pizza parlors to comply with these rules. Each restaurant is carrying about $1 million worth of liability coverage, Simpkins says.
Slow down or speed up?
But the pressure is still on, even without a deadline. Pizza delivery people depend on tips. The more deliveries, the more tips. Super Bowl Sunday is also the Super Bowl of tips, soaring from $2 to $20, according to Pizza.com. It's the highest day for sales, with more than 30 million slices sold.
Simpkins' job is to strike a balance between a safe speed of delivery and a pizza that arrives at the right temperature. He does this by making sure that:
- Pizza restaurants do not hire temporary, untrained help on busy days like the Super Bowl.
- Directions are taped to the dashboard so no one looks down to see where they're going.
- Cellphones are either turned off or set so that drivers won't be tempted to call or text while on the road.
- Pizzas are secured in the cars with handles and seat belts, which also prevents the cheese from dripping.
- Drivers make only two deliveries at a time, so pizzas arrive hot.
Tip: Don't back up
While most of us do not live on tips, it's helpful to know how most pizza drivers get into accidents. That way, we can avoid the mistakes they make once the game is over and we return to our fast-paced lives.
The most common type of accident is a rear-end collision, according to Simpkins. It's usually the result of following another car too closely or at driving at excessive speeds.
The second most common type of accident occurs when a driver makes a left-hand turn, and tries to beat out the driver coming across at the light.
The third most common type of accident is the result of backing up into traffic. Simpkins encourages drivers to park on the street; coming out of a driveway is one of the worst causes of accidents, he says.
So this Sunday, give the pizza guy or gal a good tip. And tell him or her to drive safely.
The original article can be found at Insure.com:Pizza-related claims ruined 30-minute delivery!
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