Since mailboxes are set at windshield level and generally placed close to the edge of road or road shoulder it is important that neither the mailbox nor the mailbox support presents a hazard to an errant motorist if struck.
Mailboxes should be made of light steel, aluminum, or plastic that meets U.S. Postal Service requirements. Mailboxes should also be securely fastened to the support post to prevent separation that could potentially turn the mailbox into a projectile if hit.
However, even a properly secured mailbox may pose a hazard if the support that it is secured to is not crashworthy. One of the most common support types, a wood post, can fall under this category as the post can easily fracture at the point of impact sending the upper portion of the post and mailbox into the air.
When installing a new mailbox or replacing an old mailbox, the Livingston County Road Commission encourages you to install a crash-worthy mailbox. By doing so, you will help to provide a safe roadside environment while reducing your own liability.
Mailbox and mailbox support that have been successfully crash tested include one-piece molded plastic mailboxes, cantilever swing-away type mailbox supports, coat-hanger type supports for multiple mailboxes, and single metal-post supports and anchors from various manufacturers.
Below you will find links to crash-test videos and reports for mailboxes from the Texas Department of Transportation.
Each year, 70 to 100 people are killed in accidents involving rural mailboxes. Many others are permanently injured because mailboxes and their supports penetrate the windshield.
Record snow falls in recent winters have led to an increase in the number of mailboxes damaged by heavy snow thrown from passing plows. Many of these mailboxes have become loose or in need of repair over years of use. Damage to these posts and receptacles could have been prevented by proper routine maintenance.
Will your mailbox survive the upcoming winter season? By taking a few precautions, you can help yourself out.
As the sports saying goes, the best offense is a good defense. To defend your specialty mailboxes against the forces of snow removal operations, replacing a decorative or oversized mailbox with an inexpensive standard mailbox is a good offensive action. Snow and ice coming off the plow at 35 MPH and in the mass quantities pack a much bigger punch than any snowball ever could!
Before the ground freezes is a good time to check your mailbox installation to be sure it can weather the upcoming winter season by answering the following questions.
1) Is the wood board your mailbox is setting upon in good condition? Wood does rot over time and a deteriorated board is a major cause of your mailbox landing in your front yard from the snow coming off the plow.
2) Are the nails to the board loose? If so, it can become a projectile.
3) How about the wood post in the ground? Again, an old wood post may be rotten or that one small knot in it may become the place where the post “splits.”
A simple check: If you can physically juggle your mailbox installation and it “gives” a little, it will give out when the snow and ice removal season is here.
If your mailbox has been in place for any length of time, weather can compromise a good installation.
One of the major problems each year is damage to mailboxes. Most mailbox damage occurs when heavy, wet snow is thrown against a weakened post or box.
The road commission cannot assume responsibility for such damage. If the mailbox or post is damaged by snow thrown by the snow removal vehicles, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to replace the box and post.
However, if damage occurred as a result of direct contact with road commission snow removal equipment, a supervisor will meet with the homeowner to assess the damage for possible replacement. If struck by our equipment, a new standard rural aluminum box and/or 4″x4″ wood post will supplied to the home owner. Please keep your mailbox and post in good condition and located behind the curb or beyond the shoulder, where it is less likely to be damaged.
Additionally, private installations within the public right-of-way, such as sod, shrubs, sprinkler systems, etc., may be damaged in the process of snow removal or seasonal maintenance work. Damage that may occur is not intentional and in many cases is unavoidable.
The LCRC is not responsible for damages to mailboxes, lawn irrigation systems, or similar objects placed in its right of way. We try to do no harm, but our drivers have a lot of other things to consider while working their routes.