Best auto for a rural postal carrier


#1

My wife is about to get offered a job at the USPS as a rural route carrier in Wisconsin. She would be required to use her own car. This is a part-time job for now, with a chance for full time down the road. She will have to sit on the passenger side and run the controls that are on the driver’s side. Her current car just wouldn’t work. My question is this, what would be some recommended models, to consider for this task? The car will take a beating for sure. The person who interviewed her recommended a Honda CR-V. What ever we decide, it has to have good tires, brakes and be safe. She’ll be alone, in the sticks, in all weather conditions. We would prefer used to start this task and wouldn’t use the car for anything else (most likely).


#2

“sit on the passenger side and run the controls that are on the driver’s side” ?? IE, control the car from the right side with the controls on the left?? No such thing.

Perhaps you mean a car with the controls on the right? Like a car from the UK? Those are available but scarce.


#3

No, she has to somehow sit and deliver mail while operating the left-hand controls. That’s how they do it.


#4

Jeep Cherokees and Wranglers were offered with right hand drive for several years and might still. And I have installed a right hand drive kit on several vehicles including Jeep Cherokees and run of the mill GM sedans and trucks. While I am out of touch with current reliability and serviceability records for automobiles I will still suggest test driving a Scion “toaster” which seems to have a good seating position and offer good handling in tight situations and the right hand drive kit would be easily fitted to it. And of course it does have the Toyota reputation to fall back on.


#5

It’s not possible (and unsafe) to sit on the right and operate the controls on the left.

And furthermore, that is not how rural postal delivery works.
see http://www.rightdrivejeeps4postal.com for a source of RH drive vehicles.


#6

Our Rural Carriers (Pretty Extreme Winter Driving, Here) Drive Full-Sized Buicks And Impalas, Sitting On The Right With The Controls On The Left. Our Former Carrier Used K-Cars. That’s How It’s Done Around Here.

I’d put a magnetic strobe on the roof of whatever vehicle is used. Also, learn to change brake pads if you don’t already know how.

CSA


#7

“It’s not possible (and unsafe) to sit on the right and operate the controls on the left.”

Sorry…but it’s more than possible…it’s a fact. Rural mail carriers have done this for years. The best way of course is to get a right hand drive vehicle but for most of the rural mail drivers that I have seen…left hand vehicles are the most common. I have seen this in various states and it’s a reality.


#8

I’m not saying they aren’t out there, but I’ve never seen a rural mail carrier using a right hand drive car. I’ve seen every kind of car used from sedans to SUVs. They just sit on the right and steer with their left hand. I don’t know if they have a brake pedal or gas pedal on the right or not but it wouldn’t be that hard. All of the drivers training cars had a brake pedal on the right for the instructor. I saw one guy though with a sliding seat. It was a metal seat pad with the track mounted on the seat and he could just slide left and right. There must be some specialty supply outfits with some of these items around.

Up north in the winter though on a gravel road, I’d sure think you’d want 4 or all wheel drive and also check the height of the mail boxes so its easier on the joints leaning out the window. Definitively like the warning lights. One word of caution though is do the math. I’m not sure how much money is involved to pay for a good vehicle and expenses. Most of the ones I’ve seen are pretty well used.


#9

We have rural mail service and pickup trucks with full bench seats and automatic transmissions work fine. Our carrier did recently purchase a surplus mail truck with right side controls.


#10

A bench seat will mean there is no console, leaving space to get her feet to the left side to control the pedals. She can also sit more in the middle than full right with the bench. But that reduces the space on the front seat for the mail. It would be great to have space behind the front seat to store the mail that still offers easy access for delivery. With the bench seat and rear storage, she might be able to slide from side to side and sit on the left on long stretches between deliveries.


#11

Bench seat and automatic transmission is key. Sliding back and forth to when placing mail in the box is possible with this. For short hops between boxes, you can left-foot the brake and accelerator and left-hand steer. Practice, a lot, before starting this on the route.

Most any well maintained car or small SUV with a bench seat will suffice. Newspaper carriers in my old state used to swear by old GM A-wagons and sedans; Celebrity, Cutlass Ciera, Pontiac 6000s but most of those, like Chrysler K-cars have disintegrated. Look for Accords, Camrys or Mazda 5’s maybe. Remember, Bench seat!


#12

It’s difficult to believe that thousands of drivers are out there, sitting on the right and somehow manipulating the controls that are on the left. Is this even legal ? What happens if they are pulled over by a statie? Or they get in an accident and get involved in a lawsuit?


#13

“Jeep Cherokees and Wranglers were offered with right hand drive for several years and might still.”

Additionally, Subaru used to sell right-hand drive Legacy wagons in the US, just for the purpose of rural mail delivery. It might be difficult to find one of these older vehicles, but this is another possible option for the OP.


#14
"sit on the passenger side and run the controls that are on the driver's side" ?? IE, control the car from the right side with the controls on the left?? No such thing.

Sure there is. When I lived “out,” the rural mail carrier had a 90’s LeSabre. She got a set of driving instructor pedals, which attach to the passenger side floorboard and have connecting rods that go over to the factory pedals. Then she’d steer by reaching over to the factory steering wheel.

Supposedly she slid over to the regular driving position when she was done in a neighborhood, but I never visually confirmed this, and she was lazy as all getout so I suspect this did not happen. :wink:


#15

A Google search turned up dealers with Right Hand Drive vehicles including surplus postal vehicles and firms that can put controls on some vehicles so they can be operated from either side.
I think Bill Russell lives in a large city so he probably does not realize just how much mail is delivered by rural independent contractors.


#16

Our driver’s ed car had gas and brake pedals on the right, would think that, plus steering with the left hand, would work.


#17

BillRussell wrote:
It’s difficult to believe that thousands of drivers are out there, sitting on the right and somehow manipulating the controls that are on the left. Is this even legal ? What happens if they are pulled over by a statie? Or they get in an accident and get involved in a lawsuit?

I’m also surprised that this apparently happens. I’m not normally the type to sue people, but I’m quite sure I’d be talking to a lawyer if anyone ever injured me while driving recklessly like this.


#18
"It's difficult to believe that thousands of drivers are out there, sitting on the right and somehow manipulating the controls that are on the left. Is this even legal ?"

In my experience–though admittedly limited on this topic–I have observed that cops usually overlook this type of driving. In addition to the rural mail carriers, I can recall that, back in the late '50s-early '60s in my town, there was a morbidly obese man who could not fit himself behind the steering wheel of his '57 Plymouth in the normal position. So, he drove…sidesaddle…you could say.

This guy sat facing the driver’s door window, turned his head slightly to the right in order to face–sort of–ahead, and somehow managed to operate the pedals and to steer. The first time that I saw him driving, I did a double-take, but over the next couple of years I saw him a few other times.

Based on what others in town said, it appeared that the cops were aware of how he was operating his car, but they chose to not intervene. Most likely he was politically-connected in some way or other, but he still constituted an incredible hazard on the road.


#19

Taking Rural Mail Carriers Out Of Context
Are Some People Trying To Imagine A Driver Seated On The Passenger Side In An Urban Or Suburban Setting?

My Rural Location Is More Like The Wild West.

First, it probably comes as shock to some that we have no car inspections for any reason in our state. On the other hand I can’t imagine having to deal with those restrictive regulations.

Rural mail carriers are not a hazard here. They are patient and observe traffic (when there is any) and don’t pull out in front of anybody when leaving a mail box for the next one. They usually have a blinking light, strobe, or flag on their cars. We don’t have much traffic here, period.

Operators of 4-wheeler ORVs and snow mobiles are allowed to drive on the shoulders of our county roads. Often times they don’t stay on the shoulder, travel at high speeds and throw up stones. These folks are more a hazard than mail carriers.

Heavy county snow plow trucks sometimes use more than their share of the road and force drivers off the roadway onto unplowed shoulders, which is more dangerous than a few mail carriers on the road.

I live in “a small drinking village with a fishing problem” where half the people on the road could be intoxicated at certain times of the day or night. Now that’s a hazard.

Farm tractors and combines are often encountered, sometimes taking up both sides of the road, pulling hay rakes at 15 mph and getting around them with all our hills and curves is difficult.

I can literally stand in my dining room and safely fire a rifle out the door and nobody cares or even notices it. So, you need to consider the context when assuming that rural mail carriers, sitting on the wrong side, are a danger to those around them.

It’s wild around here, miles of roads, few vehicles, and lots and lots of trees, just the way we like it.

CSA


#20

This situation is outrageous if you think about it. At most jobs, they cannot send you into an unsafe situation without providing the appropriate equipment. Examples, safety harnesses, hard toe shoes, eye, ear, protection, insulated garments etc. The actual postal workers have those right hand drive box trucks now (I think they call them LLV’s these days). Of course the actual postal workers are Union and the rural carriers are independent contractors with no rights or benefits.

Back in the day, the post office used to auction off the used postal vehicles (i.e. “surplus”). As I recall, the rural carriers used to get first crack at them before the general public. To my knowledge, the post office no longer does this; I don’t see any of those right hand drive box trucks in private hands.

“Independent Contractor”. Sounds like a bum rap to me. All the wear & tear on YOUR vehicle, gas, maintenance, depreciation. Risk of accident affecting YOUR insurance. NO benefits. YOU pay double social security tax and if you don’t file estimated taxes you get whalloped with a tax bill at the end of the year. Sure you can get a lot of deductions, but then you have to keep tons of paperwork and it complicates your taxes tremendously.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking down my nose at these people. I think its terrible that people have to resort to ekeing out a living this way, they should be paid fairly and provided with proper equipment. I briefly worked as an independent contractor with a package courier company about a decade ago as a side hustle, but I gave it up when I realized I was basically working for the gas money to make the deliveries. One parking ticket or getting towed out of a loading zone – there’s 3 days profits up in smoke!

P.S.- It was a fun job though. Driving around, meeting different people, seeing different factories and offices. Such a shame there wasn’t any money in it.