An SF Express driver surnamed Feng was struck by a car that was going in reverse while delivering packages in Dongcheng on April 17.
While it’s hardly the first time a deliveryman was involved in an accident, it was one of the first times the entire conflict was caught on camera.
Video uploaded to social media showed how the driver got out of his car and began to shout at Feng and beat him across the face while Feng did nothing to retaliate.
Feng’s accident became a trending topic on Sina Weibo within a few hours of the video’s upload, and Wang Wei, SF Express Group’s president, announced the company would stand behind its driver.
Targets of Discrimination
“I was in a hurry to deliver an express parcel and was driving with traffic on the road. I saw the black car backing out, so I honked my horn to warn him. He appeared to respond to me,” Feng told CCTV in an interview.
“I couldn’t make it through the opening, so he pulled his car forward. When I attempted to pass through the space, he shifted into reverse and backed into me,” he said.
Video of the event showed the driver get out of his car and attack Feng, saying he would not let him leave if he didn’t pay for the damages. The man repeatedly interrupted Feng’s attempts to explain and wouldn’t let him go until he apologized and paid 400 yuan.
“I was really aggrieved. The onlookers tried to comfort me and told me it wasn’t my fault – that he was obviously in the wrong,” Feng said.
Netizens quickly mobilized to expose the personal information of Feng’s attacker, and police announced they would participate in the investigation.
Feng’s situation is one familiar to any express delivery worker. Delivery agents are often targeted for abuse and physical violence, a courier industry insider told CCTV News.
“The express industry is changing China by offering vast employment opportunities. Premier Li Keqiang praised it more than once …, but many people still regard delivery agents as the bottom of society since they lack a comfortable office and shiny uniform,” he said.
But some of that disdain may come from the driving habits of delivery agents.
SF Express and other courier services depend on fleets of motorized tricycles, the operation and use of which is poorly represented in Chinese traffic law.
Some cities prohibit the use of motorized tricycles on public roads, and delivery agents are often expected to navigate traffic while evading authorities to complete their assigned work.
Express vehicles are commonly seen running red lights, driving outside their lanes, driving against traffic and making illegal crossings, which severely disrupt the order and safety of public roads.
During the Singles’ Day e-commerce rush of November 11-28, delivery tricycles were responsible for 30 percent of all traffic accidents in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.
Urban infrastructure needs to be updated to provide both a path and supervision for China’s growing fleet of delivery vehicles, a courier industry insider told CCTV News.
Justice for Drivers
The Beijing branch of SF Express called local police and confirmed the driver who struck Feng had been sentenced to 10 days of administrative detention on April 18.
The low barrier to entry to delivery work and manual labor attracts many migrants who are often unaware of their rights or how to protect them. Currently, it’s up to the companies to protect the interests of their employees, SF Express said.