Good Vehicles for Postal Carriers

by Chandler Jarrell
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cobblestone street in boston image by Stephen Orsillo from

Though vehicles of all kinds are designed to run well and last for a long time, designers of vehicles used by postal carriers must consider factors relevant to mail delivery. These include the vehicle's speed, weight, distance and emissions. Consideration of these factors has helped to create the unique mail-carrying vehicles commonly seen in neighborhoods throughout the country.

Lightweight Trucks

Some mail routes consist of densely populated areas, which require the transport of heavy loads of mail items. Transporting all this material requires a spacious vehicle, but also one that can stop and start within short distances hundreds of times a day. The ideal is a lightweight truck made of thin outer materials. The best example is one of the most common mail trucks, the Long Life Vehicle used by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). This truck is designed to handle stops and starts on street surfaces from cobblestone to gravel, and has an aluminum alloy body that is not only lightweight, but highly weather-resistant.


In some areas, workers on mail scooters can be seen puttering about delivering the mail. Such areas include villages or older parts of town with smaller roads that can be accessed only by scaled-down vehicles. One of the most common examples of this type of vehicle is the "mailster" scooter, which the USPS has used since the 1950s. This three-wheeled mini-truck is designed to accommodate a single driver and storage for mail, and is generally used in warm-weather areas where snowfall is uncommon. Although the mailster does not carry nearly as much mail as trucks, it consumes less gasoline and is ideal for low-speed areas as well as constant stopping and starting.

Flex-Fuel Vehicles

In today's eco-conscious society, the need to develop an environmentally friendly postal carrier vehicle has been of considerable concern. One effort involves the use of flexible-fuel vehicles by the USPS. These include any type of vehicle that can run on an 85 percent blend of ethanol or on regular gasoline. According to, the USPS has increased its use of alternative fuels by 41 percent since 2006.

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