Outcry Grows Over U.S. Postal Service Failure to Report Truck Crash Records

The U.S. Postal Service’s reliance on private trucking contractors to deliver the nation’s mail is coming under increased scrutiny following a string of unreported truck crash fatalities involving USPS contract truck drivers.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2023 that contract drivers for the USPS were involved in at least 68 deadly crashes over a three-year period. However, these accidents were not publicly disclosed, as contractors have not been required to report accidents to the postal service. Investigations have uncovered serious safety shortcomings, including:

  • 466 trucking contractors for the USPS routinely exceeded driving-hour guidelines in 2021 and 2022.
  • 39 percent of trucking contractors that carried U.S. mail violated safety rules designed to prevent driver exhaustion in 2021 and 2022.
  • One trucking contractor for the USPS broke those safety rules more than 200 times between 2017 and 2022.

Between December 2020 and December 2022, the Department of Transportation identified a frightening 466 Postal Service trucking contractors that had high rates of violations related to driving hours. In 2021 and 2022, 39 percent of trucking companies that carried U.S. mail violated rules meant to prevent driver exhaustion and did so repeatedly. Between 2017 and 2022, one single trucking group with a USPS contract broke those rules more than 200 times.

The postal service has increasingly relied on trucking contractors in response to growing competition from private carriers, such as UPS and FedEx. More companies have entered the mail delivery industry, serving the postal service and private carriers through both primary and secondary contract relationships.

Congress Seeks Answers

After the Wall Street Journal report was published, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) sent a letter to the USPS Inspector General requesting an investigation into how the USPS chooses and oversees trucking contractors. Connolly is a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, which oversees the postal service. His specific requests included:

  • Records of injuries and deaths involving postal service freight contractors
  • The criteria used to select contractors and whether the USPS is authorized to choose contractors with higher prices but better safety records
  • Whether primary contractors must report when they hire subcontractors to fulfill USPS contracts
  • How primary contractors ensure that subcontractors are following guidelines for hours driven and contract requirements
  • How the USPS is able to respond to violations by primary contractors and subcontractors
  • What insurance contractors and subcontractors must carry during USPS contracts
  • And other data regarding how the USPS and its contractors interact

USPS Changes Policies

In response to the news investigation and Congressional scrutiny, the postal service changed its policies to better track accidents involving contractors. Contractors will now be required to immediately notify the USPS of accidents that involve injury or death. This will help ensure that the postal service can respond proactively and either work with contractors to improve policies and performance or end contracts with companies that consistently violate safety norms. As the postal service also works to improve reporting of employee accidents, the USPS will be able to better track where and when accidents occur and make decisions based on real data.

Over the long term, these changes will help improve safety on highways, city streets and rural routes, as only the safest contractors will be able to work for the postal service. Additionally, better reporting will help Congress perform oversight duties and ensure that postal employees and their union can compare their safety records with those of contractors.

How We Help Victims of Truck Accidents

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, contact the experienced truck accidents lawyers at Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel today. We understand the ins and outs of these difficult matters, and we are prepared to provide swift and effective counsel for your case and help you get the results you deserve. Contact our experienced trucking accident lawyers now to see if you have a case.

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