‘Should I report a dangerous driver to their employer?’

A reader wonders whether to report a low-paid worker to their boss for unstable behaviour.
Credit: Emma Peer

Q: Last week I had a frightening encounter on my commute: I was cycling off from a busy intersection when a delivery van turned left directly in front, nearly clipping me. I was unhurt but shocked – if I hadn’t stopped it could easily have knocked me down.

To add insult to almost-injury, the driver wound down his window and swore at me before driving off.

I know from past experience police won’t act without video footage – however, I could complain to the company. I’m worried this dangerous driving could lead to someone being injured or worse, but I’m also aware that many delivery drivers have extremely insecure working conditions and demanding targets, and I’m not sure I’d want to risk losing someone their job. What should I do?

Dizzy of Dagenham

I was once waiting in a socially distanced queue outside a DIY shop when a man stormed out of a neighbouring store shouting racist obscenities at a member of staff. A few people expressed a very English kind of muted outrage while the man got into his minicab and drove off. I noted down the company name and number plate.

I drove home replaying the awful scene in my head. I imagined that the driver probably spent his working days listening to rightwing talk radio, filling his head with vile untruths. I got home and opened my email, found the address of the CEO of the cab company, and wrote a livid email that identified the driver. My mouse hovered over the send button.

We have all been in situations where we’ve wanted to act, fuelled by an intoxicating combination of anger and righteousness. We rationalize our behaviour as for the safety of other people – and maybe it is. But we’re also driven by a desire to satisfy an itch for revenge. And social media, e-mail and online reviewing platforms make this easy to do.

But, then, time passes. Passions cool and the desire to complain wanes. Though clearly not for you!

I know your situation is different. In your case, for instance, you could quite possibly write an email to the company and tell them of your experience without any identifying details. You could suggest that all it would take is one cyclist with a camera on their helmet for this to have gone much worse for them. You could strongly suggest that they inform all their employees – or, let’s be honest, self-employed drivers – to obey the rules of the road.

You’re right that many delivery drivers are under pressure. But this driver did swear at you, which is not OK. Precarious contract or not, dangerous and aggressive drivers should not be on the road. Maybe, if you do send an email, this episode will at least serve as a reminder to the company that driving safely must always come first.

As for my own email, I let it stay in my drafts folder for a few days. This gave me time to dwell on something else: I thought about how, in the heat of the moment, I went up to the shaken employee and offered him a few words of consolation. This, it seemed to me, was a more important act than hiding behind the shield of modern technology to seek revenge on the assailant.

Then, I thought: no, that’s not enough. This taxi company should know that one of their drivers poses a risk to the public. I should tell them.

Then, another counter-argument came to mind: what if he loses his job? Is that really a positive outcome to the world? What if he has children?

I opened the laptop. My mouse hovered over the send button...

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