Accidents involving trucks contracted to haul mail for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) have been linked to dozens of deaths in the past several years, a side-effect of aggressive cost-cutting on the part of the USPS, as well as a willingness to look the other way when its contracted drivers violate safety rules put in place to prevent serious and fatal commercial vehicle crashes.
The Killino Firm’s Truck Accident Lawyers believe the victims of preventable commercial trucking crashes and their families deserve fair compensation for their pain and suffering. If you or someone you love was injured, run over or tragically killed in an accident involving a mail truck or 18-wheeler contracted by USPS, call our law firm toll-free at 1-877-875-2927 to speak with an attorney and learn more about your legal rights.
68 Fatal USPS Truck Crashes, 79 Deaths Since 2020
According to a recent investigative report published by The Wall Street Journal, trucks contracted to haul mail for the U.S. Postal Service have been involved in 68 fatal crashes that resulted in 79 deaths since 2020.
Moreover, nearly 50 of the long-haul trucking contractors transporting mail for USPS during that period had safety records poor enough to earn a “Conditional” rating from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which required that they be placed on probation. In nearly 40% of those cases, the trucking companies violated rules intended to keep fatigued drivers off the road.
One industry representative who spoke with the Journal suggested that USPS’s unrealistic delivery timelines were at least partly to blame for the high rate of violations, speculating that some truckers felt pressured to ignore safety rules that would have otherwise prevented them from making their deliveries on time.
“If something goes wrong, there’s a lot of pressure to get the job done at any cost,” he said. The Postal Service is “pushing these people to the limit.”
While the Journal noted that most commercial shippers won’t hire trucking companies with a “Conditional” probationary rating, USPS rules only require that trucking contractors have a DOT safety rating better than “unsatisfactory,” which would ban a company from driving anyway.
The U.S. Postal Services has also been shockingly tolerant toward trucking companies that commit violations after being awarded a contract – even repeat offenders.
Last June, for example, after a USPS-contracted rig operated by Caminantes Trucking slammed into a passenger vehicle along Interstate 25 near Denver, killing five people, including a baby, police determined that the driver lacked a valid commercial license. However, the Journal’s review of DOT inspection records revealed the a history of similar violations stretching back across the company’s decade of work with USPS. Unbelievably, the Colorado crash marked the 16th time one of Caminantes’s truckers was caught without the legally required commercial driver’s license since 2017 – and the second time that week.
Cost-Cutting, Lack of Oversight Contribute to Deadly USPS Truck Crashes
There’s no doubt that the Postal Service has been under tremendous financial pressure in recent years.
As a result, it has increasingly turned to private trucking contractors to transport mail between distribution centers, including many companies that serve USPS exclusively. According to The Wall Street Journal, the pandemic stretched the Postal Service even further, and its spending on emergency and add-on trucking contracts more than doubled from 2019 to 2021.
USPS rules stipulate that trucking contracts be awarded to companies that offer the agency the “best value.” Contract terms can also remain in effect for several years and don’t keep up with market prices. As a result, the rates the U.S. Postal Service pays its contracted trucking companies fall well below the industry standard.
To make matters worse, the Post Office’s inspector general reported in 2016 that USPS employed only 18 officers to oversee its trucking contractors, which would allow for just four hours of annual oversight work per contract. In a recent email to a member of Congress, the agency also acknowledged that it doesn’t track serious crashes involving its contracted trucking companies.
“They’re not even taking the time to find out,” Zach Cahalan, the executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, told the Journal. “There’s no reporting mechanism they have asked their [contractors] to have in place to be notified when a large truck in their service results in injury or death.”
A Postal Service spokesperson did tell the Journal that the agency was planning to revamp its truck contracting procedures later this year and will mandate that companies meet specific DOT requirements – including those related to safety and maintenance – to win its business.
Not long after publishing its investigative report, The Wall Street Journal was also able to review a new USPS email instructing trucking contractors to report details of serious accidents — defined as those involving injuries, death, or significant property damage – that occur along their mail-hauling routes to the agency’s leadership.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Our Truck Accident Lawyers have extensive experience representing those injured due to the reckless actions of postal carriers, truckers and trucking companies. Trucking-related crashes often involve more severe injuries and multiple liable parties than a typical motor vehicle crash, and the involvement of a USPS postal worker or another governmental agency only adds to the complexity. Our law firm has the resources and expertise to take on the trucking company attorneys and file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf. To learn more, please contact us for a free consultation at 1-877-875- 2927.