House bill would require USPS to track traffic deaths and injuries involving mail carriers

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivers millions of letters and packages each day, and they use 4,600 trucking contractors to make that happen.

But some of those drivers have also been involved in deadly crashes.

In June 2022, the Godines family were driving back home to Wyoming when a US Postal service truck slammed into them.

“The truck’s brakes were out of alignment. It was uninsured and its driver had no commercial driver’s license,” said Rep. Gerald Connolly, (D) Virginia. “Three generations of the family were killed. They lost their lives, including a 3-month-old baby.”

But lawmakers say their story isn’t the only tragedy.

An Inspector General report found the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t track injuries or deadly crashes involving contracted drivers. It also shows the agency used insufficient screenings for those drivers and the agency did not always know who was authorized to transport the mail.

The House approved a new bipartisan bill Monday that would require USPS to collect and track information about deaths and injuries from traffic crashes involving mail carriers.

“Increases transparency into the postal service’s safety record to improve public safety throughout our nation. Rep. Jake LaTurner, (R) Kansas.

In the watchdog report, USPS said contractors are used during emergencies and “allows USPS the flexibility to make transportation network changes on the fly and adjust to current business conditions.”

When it comes to its screening process, USPS said it focused on the driver’s criminal history, not safety record.

“This cannot continue, we can’t just have a statement and then never, never revisit it,” said Zach Cahalan, executive director for the Truck Safety Coalition.

Traffic safety advocates like Zach Cahalan said this latest action from Congress is necessary to keep roads safer for everyone.

“So future people don’t have to feel the same pain and trauma and heartbreak from these preventable crashes,” he said.

Surviving members of the Godines family are also hopeful this legislation will save lives.

“It’s time that USPS starts being held responsible. They have to start keeping record of their crashes and that’s huge. I hope this will help prevent these negligent companies and drivers transporting mail from ever getting on the road and putting countless lives in danger,” said Abby Godines in a written statement.

This bill would also require the U.S. Postal Service to release an annual report about traffic deaths and injuries.

U.S. Postal Service (USPS) released the following statement: The legislation is not needed to accomplish the goals of the bill. Our Highway Contract Route (HCR) Safety Team, established in October 2023, is responsible for collecting and reviewing carrier accident and incident reporting, vetting carrier requirements, and enforcing any safety violations. In that effort, we use up-to-date software and other tools that compile nationwide, DOT-reportable safety information about transportation suppliers, including Postal Service highway contractors.

We are continuously improving our efforts to promote safety practices and minimize accidents among employee drivers and contract drivers, including monitoring industry and government data relating to our contractors. Further, our HCR safety criteria sets minimum requirements for carrier federal safety ratings, and we will not contract with anyone that does not meet those thresholds.

Postal Service employees and third-party trucking companies and brokers are contractually required to report every accident, which we track and monitor. They are also expected to operate safely, and adhere to all federal, state, and local laws, and our contracts provide for termination, withholding of awards and renewals, and other appropriate corrective actions to be taken with respect to highway contractors that have a poor highway safety record.

We move 55,000 loads by truck every day – nearly 2 billion miles per year – and fatalities are less likely to occur with trucks carrying mail than other cargo on our nation’s highways.

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