Another hazard to passing on the right
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