An­other hazard to pass­ing on the right

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Thanks to Ar­lie Bryan Siebert for bring­ing this new law to our at­ten­tion via his let­ter in the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent is­sue of July 7. And thanks as well to Jill Smith­son for her let­ter in the July 12 is­sue of the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent.

My fam­ily pur­chased our home in 1965 on a state high­way with traf­fic con­di­tions pre­sent which are dif­fer­ent than the con­di­tions we have to en­dure at the pre­sent time. There are reg­u­larly ac­ci­dents of var­i­ous types which yield haz­ards too many to list. Some of the ac­ci­dents even in­volve chil­dren ex­it­ing and en­ter­ing school buses which have caused both in­juries and deaths. There are other ac­ci­dents which have caused the SMECO util­ity pole to be bro­ken with reg­u­lar­ity, the last be­ing on Christ­mas Eve.

When our home was pur­chased, it came with a mail­box al­ready in­stalled by some­one un­known. It could have been in­stalled by the Cook­sey fam­ily from whom the home was pur­chased or by Turner and Nor­ris Con­struc­tion who built the homes (post WWII) along our street. The mail­box was placed in a sen­si­ble lo­ca­tion to al­low the postal pa­tron that would have been re­mov­ing their mail from the box to “run and duck for cover” around or be­hind the util­ity pole nearby. Many decades later, a note ap­peared in our mail­box or­der­ing my par­ents to re­lo­cate their mail­box to a dif­fer­ent site at the op­po­site cor­ner of their lot. The note was protested by my father who went sev­eral times to the La Plata Post Of­fice. Ul­ti­mately he had to un­earth our safe mail­box (such as it was) and re­in­stall it in an area which is markedly less safe.

Now the Mary­land Leg­is­la­ture has au­thored their MDHB 1456 which al­lows pass­ing to the right of the white line. The white line was about the only sliver of safety we had left while re­triev­ing the mail. It ap­pears the word­ing of the new law has two pro­vi­sos: 1) Unob­structed view — there are nu­mer­ous weather and light con­di­tions which cause a stand­ing hu­man to be un­seen (haze, fog, glar­ing sun­light, road spray, snow­fall, black ice, etc.); 2) No ve­hi­cles to be parked — it is re­as­sur­ing the leg­is­la­ture rec­og­nizes a parked car to be in­cluded in their word­ing of the new law but omits my stand­ing in front of the mail­box re­triev­ing mail.

The Siebert let­ter also brought up the idea of a Go­FundMe ac­count for sur­vivors. The United States Postal Ser­vice should im­me­di­ately pur­chase med­i­cal in­sur­ance cov­er­age and um­brella li­a­bil­ity cov­er­age for not only the sur­vivors but also the suc­cumbed who are struck not only by a ve­hi­cle but also by fly­ing de­bris caused by spin­ning or brak­ing tires. This is also made more nec­es­sary since the old or­der to re­lo­cate the mail­box was made to some­one else and not to the in­di­vid­ual who could be struck in the pre­sent day and time.

The idea of a fed­eral en­tity caus­ing un­safe ac­tiv­i­ties fol­lowed up by a state leg­is­la­ture en­hanc­ing an un­safe con­di­tion is lu­di­crous. My rec­om­men­da­tion to all is to re­duce your haz­ardous ex­po­sure by not re­triev­ing the mail on a daily ba­sis. Pick up the mail from your boxes only on Satur­day af­ter­noon/evenings. This would re­duce your like­li­hood of an ac­ci­dent to one sixth of your pre­sent ex­po­sure.

Henry Thomp­son, La Plata

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