With all the varied terrain that Postal Service carriers have to cover come some occupational hazards – mainly, maneuvering those huge vehicles that look like they’re straight out of the 80s.
This has led USPS to institute what is known as the Driveway Policy. So, what is the USPS Driveway Policy? Let me explain it to you below!
What Is the USPS Driveway Policy?
The USPS Driveway Policy is a guideline that stipulates mail carriers must walk up driveways to deliver items like oversized parcels versus driving up and not being able to turn around. Its aim is not only a courtesy to residents but a measure to prevent vehicle back-up accidents, which number in the thousands each year.
Keep reading below if you’d like to learn more about why there is a USPS Driveway Policy, about USPS vehicle back-ups, if mail carriers can walk through your yard, and even what to do if the mail carrier damages your property.
Why Is There a USPS Driveway Policy?
Recently, a Postal Service spokesperson referred to “…rural areas where its delivery people are told not to drive up long private driveways.”
This is because, presumably, there isn’t always enough room to loop around, and you can’t tell if there will be from the street.
Instead, Postal carriers are instructed to walk the items up – or, at their discretion, they might leave the parcels or oversized envelopes at or near the mailbox.
The aim, ultimately, is to prevent trucks from going where they may be forced to back up.
USPS vehicle back-ups are an ongoing cause of accidents due to their bulky size.
Some modern vehicles come with cameras, but the size and shape of the vehicles are, for the most part, still hazardous enough to discourage backing up.
Driveways are particularly bad news for backing up because of their typically narrow shape. Add in other factors, like cars sitting out or children and pets outside playing.
By requiring mail carriers to walk up the driveway, USPS is doing its part in recognizing a safety hazard and minimizing the problem at its source.
Now, this is not to say that USPS trucks never go up long driveways.
My guess is that if a driver is super familiar with a residence and knows that there is ample space to do a forward-driving loop, they will probably do it to deliver bigger packages.
It’s all up to the individual mail carrier, though.
Can USPS Vehicles Back Up?
USPS vehicles can back up, but the Postal Service does discourage it as much as possible, especially in residential situations, like driveways, where many hazards can present.
However, USPS.com cites “docks and parking spaces” as some locations where backing up may be necessary.
These are acceptable because they tend to be far from the distractions and sudden motions of residential neighborhoods (with pets and kids at play).
Can the Mailman Walk Through Your Yard?
We’ve all taken shortcuts through yards to get somewhere faster, but can mail carriers bypass the driveway and walk through your grass?
Actually, they can!
Despite the name, the USPS Driveway Policy is not an absolute indicator of where mail carriers can walk when they have to bring parcels and such to the front door.
That said, if it bothers you, you can absolutely say something to your delivering Post Office, and you are well within your rights to request that the mail carrier stay on the driveway or sidewalk.
What Do You Do If Mailman Damages Your Property?
Say a letter carrier takes their USPS vehicle down your driveway, attempts to back up, and hits your garage door. What then?
Well, if you have it on camera, you’re in the best shape to receive compensation for the damages from USPS.
If you don’t, you’re going to want to collect as much evidence as possible to make your case.
Contact your delivering Post Office ASAP; there is likely video evidence on their end from the vehicle for them to review.
If a mail carrier damages your property, with a truck or otherwise, the Postal Service is liable for the destruction.
To know more about USPS, you can also read our posts on whether or not USPS trucks have cameras, where do USPS trucks go out for delivery, and if you can file a claim with USPS without insurance.