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Postal Service warns kids to stay away from mail trucks
Letter carriers rally in effort to protect children

In a day of delivering the mail, carrier Brenda Ryans might see 50 or more children, many of whose first impulse is to run to meet her postal delivery truck.

Ryans, a letter carrier for 13 years, and other carriers want to be friends to youngsters on their route. But carriers -- concerned about the safety of children -- want them to keep a safe distance from their vehicles.Carriers and postal officials don't want any child to be hurt. Some children have been injured, and at least two youngsters were killed in Utah in recent years in accidents involving mail delivery trucks.

In late May 1998, a 5-year-old West Jordan boy was hit and killed by a mail truck in front of his home. The boy was dashing out to retrieve the mail.

On March 13 of this year, a 1-year-old boy suffered serious injuries when he apparently was hit by a postal truck in North Salt Lake. The child was transported by medical helicopter to Primary Children's Medical Center. He was released March 15 from the hospital.

Ryans, who delivers mail in a mostly residential area of West Jordan, said many of the children on her route know her by her first name.

"Their first impulse is to run to the truck and say, 'Hi.' We want to be friendly, but at the same time we must be firm," said Ryans, who became so concerned about child safety that she initiated an effort for the Salt Lake Post Office that will hopefully prevent such accidents.

Friday morning she stopped at The Tender Touch child care center, 6990 S. 1300 West, West Jordan, to visit with children and those who supervise them. Director Carolyn Woolstenhulme said she is pleased with efforts being made to protect the safety of all children.

Ryans doesn't deliver the mail to the West Jordan center, but she and other carriers have been visiting schools, child care centers and other facilities to show a videotape and to distribute coloring booklets and other materials with a safety theme.

A packet of such materials, which include letters to parents and incentive prizes for children, has been sent to post offices throughout the state. A postal employee at each office will be responsible for helping to inform their local community, said Thelxi Hauenstein, customer relations coordinator for the Salt Lake City Post Office.

Ryans said, "Everyone is responsible for the safety of children. They include carriers, parents and kids themselves. We hope this effort through the schools, child care centers and other places will help prevent injuries and even death."

Salt Lake Postmaster Ralph Hamilton says children are "drawn like magnets to letter carriers and their vehicles. 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.

"We love kids, and we want them to be safe, so we're hoping this new program will help prevent accidents. We are asking parents to please talk with their children and explain to them the importance of staying away from postal vehicles."