Postal workers have a bit of a problem: Their trucks are catching fire. And not just a few of them. At least 417 USPS mail trucks—the classic ones with right-side driving to enable quick delivery—have been damaged or scorched by fire since 2014, Vice reports. Engineers brought in to investigate found 125 trucks too burned to reveal the cause of the blaze, while the other 282 were caused by various problems. They happened morning and afternoon, in hot and cold weather, in rural and city areas, and originated in fuel pumps, dashboards, and battery compartments, per investigative documents. A likely cause, then? The trucks are just too old and run down.
After all, the Northrop Grumman-made trucks were bought between 1987 and 1994, per a 2015 USPS presentation—which puts them well past their estimated lifespan of 24 years. Sadly the fires coincide with a budget crisis created by The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, which required the USPS to allocate $72 billion for 75 years to pay for worker healthcare costs, per the Drive. That's helped put the USPS billions of dollars in the red, on the verge of financial ruin, and unable to replace aging trucks. As a postal-carrier union newsletter put it in 2015: "This is a very dangerous situation." (Read more post office stories.)