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Eye Opener: Learning how to drive a mail truck

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday! Ever wondered what it's like driving on the right hand side of a mail truck? The Federal Eye has wondered since he was a kid and recently got a chance to try it out.

The U.S. Postal Service owns and operates the largest fleet of vehicles in the world, with more than 200,000 vehicles driving American roads. More than 2,000 mail trucks are based in Northern Virginia, where driving safety instructor Jim Mills has trained more than 1,000 colleagues.

"A lot of people get confused by sitting on the right-hand side, but basically you're making all your turns the same if you were sitting on the left side," Mills says in the video above. "They've just never driven right-hand drive."

"The first day with me is driver orientation for eight hours," he says. "Then a computer-based course for four hours. Then they have a defensive driving course that we use with the National Safety Council. That's a six-hour course. Then they come back for the skills course and vehicle familiarization, which is another six hours."

But Mills gave The Federal Eye an abbreviated crash course (no pun intended) in less than 45 minutes. Watch the video above, read an extended Q&A with Mills and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | April 7, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye On..., Eye Opener, Video Report  
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Comments

Thanks for this! My father was a rural mail carrier--drove his own car on country routes--and a friend recently began delivering in suburbs, in one of these trucks. The right-hand drive is hard to imagine for most Americans.

Posted by: CherieOK | April 7, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I learned how to drive a mail truck at age 13, and in a big hurry. The postman stopped his truck in front of the house across the street, and left the motor running (it was winter) while he went to the door to get a signature for a package. I was nearby with a similar-aged friend and we jumped into the truck and drove away. I drove it in a three-block square, halting for stop signs and obeying speed limits and returned the truck 10 minutes later to the same place I found it, but the police were already there and the town postmaster was on his way. That little joyride cost me two years in a private military school, at my parents' expense. Thirty-seven years later, I'm working as a contractor to a Federal Government agency. Isn't life strange?

Posted by: niceFLguy | April 7, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

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