People wrongly assume that UPS vans have no doors, and here’s why:
UPS vans have front doors that retract into their sides. This design allows easy access to the van, boosts efficiency, improves the driver’s field of vision, and increases ventilation. Since the drivers don’t usually close the doors while driving, the vans seem to have no front doors.
Any proper UPS van has two pocket doors at the sides plus an extra cabin door that opens into the rear cargo area.
This design allows the driver to access packages easily without repetitive strain or possible injury.
As both current and veteran UPS drivers report, the doors are pretty heavy, and the latches may not always function properly (especially for old vans). So it’s easier and more reasonable to do the job with at least the passenger door open.
No driver wants to strain or injure themselves while repetitively delivering parcels, and I bet you’d also drive with all doors open when you have to make 100+ neighborhood calls a day.
If you want to spot the doors closed, just wait till winter, grab a cup of hot chocolate, and chill out on your porch as you wait for the vans to make their routine neighborhood calls.
Why UPS Drivers Leave Their Van Doors Open
UPS drivers always keep their van doors open because:
1. Saves Time During Delivery of Packages
In a business sense, time is money, and if you want to save both, you’ll have to treat each second as extremely valuable. UPS seems to have mastered this subtle art.
You could make between 100 to 200 stops a day as a UPS driver. So let’s just say you’re making 150 on average each day.
Now, picture yourself opening a stubborn door, climbing out, getting packages, closing the door, dropping off packages, opening the door again…150 times a day.
It even sounds boring aside from the fact that the door mechanism could wear out fast.
Every second spent opening the door to get out and closing it again before dropping off a package could eat away up to 5 seconds per stop.
Assuming the van driver makes 150 delivery stops, and each takes 5 seconds for just dealing with the door, that’s approximately 12 minutes wasted daily.
That’s a whole lot of time thrown away, and no savvy business person wants it to take a toll on their employee productivity and overall returns. Talk to any UPS driver, and they’ll tell you the company ensures they must pare down minutes wasted on the fly.
UPS vans come with sensors to trace every move made by the drivers, and the company keeps tabs on all the drivers’ activities. This way, it knows what to change to make package delivery smooth and save time and money.
2. It’s Easier to Get In and Out of The Van
The open doors make it effortless and swift to get in and out of the van, especially when you’re carrying out several door-to-door deliveries in a dense neighborhood. That comes in handy when you have a daily target, don’t you think?
According to NPR, Jack Levis, the guy in charge of the UPS data, found out together with his team that opening a van door with a key was slowing their drivers down.
Eventually, the company switched from keys to push-button controls for opening their van doors. Additionally, the doors can retract sideways and remain like that for easy access.
Frequent opening and closing of the van doors may result in a broken latch. If that happens during working hours and the door is stuck, I can only imagine the kind of anger and frustration that could hit a UPS driver.
3. Open Doors Improve The Driver’s Field of Vision
The trickiest blindspots occur in the areas around the back of a van. So here’s where you can’t only rely on the van’s side mirrors as they limit your field of view significantly.
If you were the one driving a UPS van on a busy road, seeing other vehicles on the road that fall into these blind spots would be an uphill struggle.
Therefore, keeping the UPS van doors open gives the drivers a better view to just look sideways and check for other vehicles before switching lanes.
4. It Boosts Ventilation in the Van
UPS vans don’t come with any such thing as an AC. While that sounds mean, it’s simply because opening and closing the doors multiple times would render the AC inefficient and a huge waste of money.
If a company has tasked you with piloting a brown sizzling metal cocoon in the middle of the summer in a place like Florida, that’s bad news.
Most people start to experience hyperthermia after about 10 minutes in extreme heat. The UPS vans obviously won’t melt, but the drivers will undoubtedly feel like a marshmallow on a campfire.
An article by NBC News reveals that delivery drivers have suffered dehydration, heat-induced kidney failure, extreme exhaustion, and heat strokes after several successive days working in these oppressively hot vans.
Remember, the cab area of a UPS van is mostly metal, with no sufficient insulation. Since no driver wants to be scorched into a pile of coal, the open front doors come to their rescue by letting the hot, humid air out and letting in cool air.
However, during winter, UPS drivers shut the doors, and that’s the best time you could bust the myth that these brown delivery vans have no doors.
UPS’s Patent Lets Them Drive With Open Doors
It’s fair to ask yourself whether driving a delivery van with its front doors wide open isn’t going against the law in America.
That’s quite odd, but believe me, it’s perfectly legal (PS: for UPS vans).
UPS applied for and got a patent that allows their van drivers to keep their doors open when they hit the road, for the reasons I’ve highlighted above.
Interestingly, there’s no risk driving around with the front doors open, even on a residential road.
The company states that it’s essential for the driver to have their seatbelt on, the cabin door leading to the cargo area must be closed, and the rear doors must be kept shut to prevent packages from falling off while driving.
Federal Regulations Protect the UPS Van Drivers
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) acknowledges that heat exposes the lives of American workers to great risk.
Under Section 5(a)(1) of the General Duty Clause, the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970 requires an employer or an entire industry to provide a workplace free from dangerous conditions and activities.
That applies as long as they recognize the conditions or activities involved may cause death or physical harm to their employees, and there is a viable method to reduce the dangers.
Such dangers include heat-related hazards that may cause serious bodily harm or even death, such as a heat stroke.
Unfortunately, OSHA can’t force employers to implement the above guidelines because neither the administration nor Congress formulated federal thermal exposure laws. It only has the General Duty Clause for use in guaranteeing the protection of workers.
Among the things OSHA has done in the past is notifying UPS on heat-related workplace hazards by issuing them hazard letters.
Such letters usually outline the dangers employees face and recommend fixes, like adjusting the schedules during overly hot days and ensuring workers rest enough during breaks.
UPS had to come up with a genius way of sticking with these guidelines without reinventing the wheel, so they made retractable doors that latch as the vans move.
Other Interesting Facts About UPS Vans
Driving with the front doors wide open is one thing. Here are two other interesting facts about UPS vans:
1. UPS Van Drivers Earn Decent Salaries and Tips
According to Glassdoor, UPS van drivers today earn an average base pay of $47,781 every year. Additional cash pay may go up to $10,650, and that includes bonuses and tips.
According to Indeed, the average pay of a UPS van driver is $20.63 per hour, an estimate based on some 1699 employees, users, and job ads analyzed within a year.
2. The Vans Don’t Turn Left
Generally speaking, finding a UPS van making a left-hand turn at a busy intersection is something you can only dream of.
Remember, they have found that a left-hand turn is less safe, and wasteful on a right-hand drive road due to the amount of time a van is idling in traffic.
The company designed its vehicle routing software to rework pre-planned routes and eliminate most left turns.
While most people falsely think that UPS vans have no front doors, they have pocket doors that retract into the sides, unlike other van doors that open outward. Additionally, the drivers don’t close them ordinarily while driving around.
UPS drivers shouldn’t feel like they’re signing their death sentence once they step into their vans.
So they drive around with the front doors open to access their vans in a breeze, save time, and avoid getting baked during the summer.