The 12 mail carriers honored Tuesday have driven almost 400 accident-free years, covering enough miles to stretch back and forth to the moon 25 times.
Each Pasco-based driver was honored for reaching 30 years without a preventable accident — each logging about a million miles.
“Those who are receiving the awards today, it’s a significant milestone for them,” said Gary Pritchard, a safety specialist with the Postal Service’s Seattle district during a visit to Pasco on Tuesday. “They’ve demonstrated safe work practices and, specifically, that they care about their safety, the safety of our co-workers and the safety of our customers.”
While the U.S. Postal Service has long honored drivers with safe records, Pasco Postmaster Dana Alderson said her facility, which has 83 drivers, hasn’t had a ceremony since 2004 because there wasn’t enough staff to track the numbers.
But the Spokane-based manager of post office operations, who oversees Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, recently added a new assistant who was able to put together a list of safe workers.
“Just recently they’ve done a big push to get us back up to speed,” Alderson said.
So, while past ceremonies honored one or two safe drivers, this ceremony meant plaques for a dozen mail carriers.
In order to receive an award, drivers need to accumulate at least 30 safe years, not necessarily 30 consecutive years, without a preventable accident, Alderson said. If they have a preventable accident in a particular year, that year would not count.
Curt Rabideau, 58, who had the most safe years with 34, said customers expect a higher level of competency now than when he started.
“Whether it’s delivering the mail or driving, you need to pay attention to what you’re doing,” said Rabideau, who now works in maintenance after spending years driving a mail route in Pasco.
Robert Scherr, 57, picked up an award for 33 years of safe driving. He drives a route along the Columbia River in Pasco.
“It’s crazy around Water Follies around the river,” he said.
Driving defensively has been crucial to maintaining safety, Scherr said. “Watch out for everybody else.”
Mail carriers honored Tuesday, were: Rabideau, 34 years; Lisa Gall, 33 years; Scherr, 33 years; Dorothy Allison, 32 years; Mechthild Stewart, 32 years; Kimberly Sundberg, 32 years; Dayle Carter, 31 years; Ellen Conner, 30 years; Tina Kim, 30 years; David Kim, 30 years; Tom LaFortune, 30 years; Brian McEneaney, 30 years.