Just don't do it

July 20, 2011|By EDITORIAL FROM THE AEGIS

Really? A law to make it illegal in Harford County to park in front of a mailbox between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.? Has the Harford County Council really come to this?

Apparently so since Dick Slutzky, who lives in Aberdeen and represents that community among others on the county council, proposed just such legislation last week. Mail carriers won't deliver mail to mailboxes that are obstructed by a parked vehicle. Slutzky said the problem is post office policy doesn't allow drivers to exit their vehicles to walk around a parked vehicle to stick the mail in the box.

"It's unfortunate that we even have to consider such a thing but it's been a real problem in some areas of the county …," Slutzky said as he introduced the bill at the July 12 Harford County Council meeting. "We would hope that in most cases this is something you could resolve with your neighbors – 'please don't let your family or friends park in front of the mailboxes' – but it became a growing concern."

We agree with what Slutzky said. We don't, however, believe that passing a law banning the practice is the answer. Have you seen anyone today who was driving and talking or texting while driving? Exactly. Slutzky's bill may change some crass behavior by those who don't hesitate to park in front of a neighbor's mailbox, but it isn't the cure.

What we have become - boorish, impatient, rude, etc. – precludes many of us from being the kind of cooperative and thoughtful neighbor that would make such legislation unnecessary. Instead, thoughtlessness that precipitates parking in front of a neighbor's mailbox, which could keep them from getting a mail delivery, is standard operating procedure for too many people. The old saw that "there oughta be a law" may sound good in the mailbox parking conundrum, but it's neither the perfect solution, nor any real solution. The problem is more complex than just passing a law, especially one that does not yet specify a penalty for violators. That, obviously, would have to come, but what about enforcement? There are already plenty of laws – seen any speeders or drivers rolling their vehicles through a stop sign today? – that police either don't have the resources or the inclination to enforce. Adding another one just for the sake of having one on the books isn't an answer.

We may not be sure what's the best way to address the issue, but we're sure that passing a law isn't the answer to all of the issues governments face.

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