This has probably been one of the snowiest winters that New England has experienced in years.  In just the last week, we have had to deal with a blizzard and a significant snowstorm.  It has been a while since we have seen the snow piled up so high in our yards.

Because of the storms, your social media feeds have probably been filled with pictures and videos of snow on people’s decks, snow on people’s cars, the kids playing in the snow, and of people cooking complex meals they would never normally try while they wait for the storm to be done.

Occasionally, though, in the middle of those clumps of posts showing people having fun, you get a post showing a destroyed mailbox.  In almost every case, the owner of the mailbox blames a state or town plow driver and questions what they need to do to get the state or town to “take care of the problem”.

The answer to that question, by the way, is that there often is not much that can be done.  Get a new mailbox and move on with your day.

How do you avoid having this happen?  One of the best ways is to make sure your mailbox is installed according to the United States Postal Service and Maine Department of Transportation guidelines.

According to the Maine DOT:

  • You should install your mailbox after your driveway.  That is, to the right of your driveway if you were sitting at the end of the driveway, facing the road.  Apparently, this minimizes the amount of snow getting piled up around your mailbox (presumably because the opening of your driveway is already clear of snow).  It also makes it easier for mail people to deliver your mail.
  • It is recommended that you install your mailbox so the bottom is about 45” above the ground.  This allows clearance for the blade of a plow to go under the box.
  • It is suggested that you use an extension arm mount for your mailbox, instead of it just sitting on a pole.
  • The door / opening of the mailbox should be at least a foot back from the shoulder of the road.

The Maine DOT website also goes into detail about where a mailbox can be placed in relation to a sidewalk and what types of materials can be used to construct the supporting structure for the mailbox.

Keep in mind that these rules are for state roads.  Your town or city could have specific rules.  Check with your town office for more details.

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