A longtime rural resident, I use my 60 plus years of life learning to opinionate here and elsewhere on the “interweb” on everything from politics to environmental issues. A believer in reasonable discourse rather than unhelpful attacks I try to give positive input to the blogesphere, so feel free to comment upon rural issues or anything else posted here. But don’t be surprised if you comments get zapped if you are not polite in your replys.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Mailbox Police (Take II)

I had hoped to leave this one lay despite the rather over the top reply to my previous post on this by one purporting to be a NL mail carrier, but given what I am seeing on neighborhood roads I just have to have a second crack at it. Firstly I understand that there have been two (possiby three) deaths of mail carriers in recent years and even one avoidable death is one too many, that said I was unable to find details of the deaths mentioned in the reply to my previous post. I cannot therefore decide for myself if this “accident” was due to the positioning of a rural mail box or indeed if the mail delivery persons (gota be politically correct here eh) was even in the process of their duties when “rear-ended”. (perhaps our respondent can provide details and links). Irregardless, given the miles driven by our rural mail carriers I would think this is in fact a stellar record and reflect positively upon the care most of these folk take when delivering the mail.

I have a great deal more problem with both the criteria in deciding that a mail box location is “unacceptable” and with the criteria for deciding where it will be “acceptable” to the unidentified individuals who are making these decisions. A little digging turns up remarkable little information on this, it seems they do receive “special training” and the decision is made using a “mathematical formula”. Apparently common sense has no part of this union led initiative nor are we allowed to know exactly what the criteria is so that we may judge for ourselves.

Haven now driven around our rural neighborhood and observed the little flags indicating where the mail boxes HAVE to be moved to within 15 DAYS I can only say that many, if not most of the changes demanded deify any kind of logic. The preferred location seems to be at or slightly beyond the crest of a hill where such a situation exists. I must PRESUME that the location is selected to enable the mail driver to be able to see traffic coming in BOTH directions during delivery and when leaving the location, sound logical right. WRONG. The fact that the MAIL driver can see oncoming traffic is all but immaterial, it is NOT on their side of the road (unless they are illegally crossing the road and delivering from the drivers side window a practice which Canada Post has declared not acceptable) the important thing is whether the traffic on their side of the road can see them AND SAFELY PASS. Since the locations I have seen marked are NOT such that the postal vehicle is completely off the road when the location is on or over the top of a hill, a driver attempting to pass will be in the middle of the road at exactly the point where it is blind FOR said motorist. The fact that the mail driver will be able to see it about to happen will not help them one little bit when these motorists swerve at the last minute to avoid a head on collision.

In the summer of 2004, Canada Post announced a new policy that, to the average person, sure seems reasonable: no driving on the wrong side of the road. Until then, mail carriers who worked the rural routes routinely violated the law and veered down the left side of the street, giving them easy access to those rustic roadside mailboxes.

A couple more points must be made with regard to the “safety” of our Rural Mail Delivery Persons. If as the Mailbox Police maintain the locations of these mailboxes is so dangerous why is it that I have observed several of these folks delivering mail WITHOUT the flashing safety beacon with which they have been provided turned on? Secondly if it is illegal, dangerous and contrary to Canada Posts directive to cross the road and face oncoming traffic to deliver from the drivers side window why have I observed rural mail carriers still doing just that? Thirdly, if such a practice is indeed as described above why is it that the Mailbox Police have NOT demanded that all mailboxes be located on the same side of the road so that the delivery can take place consistently from the passenger side window without dodging back and forth across the road? One wonder how much the actual mail delivery person who travels the route is consulted and involved in the process, I am sure that if they felt a particular location was dangerous if they approached the homeowner with a politely worded REQUEST explaining the problem very few of us would decline their request to make it safer for them.

That some of the “suggested” positions are indicated as being just 10” or 12” back from the existing spot or simply the other side of a driveway for no visible reason is just simply bizarre, but then that sums up this whole issue quite nicely. No consultation, no logic, no common sense, no appeal process, no one to contact and location choices that leave us wondering if the Mailbox Police were simply out on a “make work” project. It seem that many folk have contacted their local MP to complain about this, if you are one of those affected may I suggest you do the same.

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