Children seem to have a fascination with ice cream trucks and they sometimes confuse them with postal vehicles.
Last month, the Postal Service sent 10,000 fliers with information concerning child safety near mailboxes and postal vehicles to Salt Lake-area customers with curbside or group mailboxes.The Postal Service officials urged parents to teach youngsters to stay away from trucks carrying mail in their neighborhoods, as well as all cars, trucks and motor vehicles. They urged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of playing near them.
Officials say that some younger children run to pick up the mail from postal vehicles, perhaps thinking initially that they are ice cream trucks. Some ice cream and other refreshment vendors have purchased old postal vehicles. And because of their familiarity with such equipment, children aren't as careful as they should be, said Beverly Burge, customer relations coordinator for the Salt Lake Post Office.
In late May, a 5-year-old West Jordan youngster was hit and killed by a mail truck. The boy was dashing out to retrieve the mail, and the driver apparently didn't see him.
Just minutes before the accident, the letter carrier had told a group of children at a previous mail delivery stop to move away from the mail delivery truck, Burge said.
She said another child was fatally injured by a mail delivery truck a number of years ago. She said she believes that accident occurred in Utah County.
"Children are drawn like magnets to our letter carriers and their vehicles," said Salt Lake Postmaster Ralph Hamilton. "It can make for a very dangerous situation when a letter carrier tries to deliver the mail and keep track of children at the same time."
Every year children are seriously injured or killed while carelessly playing near postal vehicles. It's a tragedy that Hamilton says can be avoided.
"We love kids and we want them to be safe, so we're asking parents to please talk with their children and explain to them the importance of staying away from postal vehicles."
Cyndi Stewart, a Salt Lake letter carrier for 13 years, told the Deseret News that she ran over a little boy's tricycle while delivering mail about five years ago in West Valley City. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
Stewart said the incident occurred when a group of children approached her mail delivery truck in a cul-de-sac.
"They came running from all directions. I stopped the truck and told them all to step back until I finished delivering the mail to each box along the street. As I proceeded to move out of the cul-de-sac, I heard a child screaming, and I thought I had run over someone. I put the truck in park, jumped out and discovered that a tricycle had rolled under my front wheel. The children were standing on the sidewalk," Stewart said.
The carrier said she scooped up a little boy (whose tricycle had been damaged) in her arms and rushed with him to his home where his mother met them at the door.
"It was such a relief to me that the little boy was OK, but I was badly shaken by the incident. I was so upset that I had to call my supervisor who came out with another carrier to finish my route," Stewart said.
Hamilton suggests that if children want to pick up the mail that they should wait until the letter carrier has driven to the next box.
"We realize that, despite the best efforts of parents, sometimes kids will play too close to a postal vehicle. So, we remind our employees regularly through safety talks to always be on the lookout for children," Hamilton said.