Getting the mail from your vehicle

I received an email from a citizen this week about getting mail while remaining in your vehicle. The citizen lives on a rural road and travels various other rural roads to get to work. In their travels they witness a number of people drive across the center line onto the left shoulder of the roadway facing traffic coming from the opposite direction in order to obtain their mail while still in the driver’s seat. Their question is if it is legal to obtain their mail this way when the driver must cross over to the opposite shoulder of the road facing oncoming traffic, while potentially causing a hazard?

There is no one specific law which addresses this issue, but there are a couple different laws that come into play on this topic. I would like to assume that on the reader’s rural road, there is no designated shoulder, and a vehicle stopped to obtain mail would be impeding the normal flow of traffic. This is prohibited in MCL 257.676b(1):

“A person, without authority, shall not block, obstruct, impede, or otherwise interfere with the normal flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic upon a public street or highway in this state, by means of a barricade, object, or device, or with his or her person. This section shall not apply to persons maintaining, rearranging, or constructing public utility facilities in or adjacent to a street or highway. “

Although, even if there is a shoulder large enough for a vehicle, this practice is still prohibited because in order to get to the mailbox, the driver would be driving on the left side of the roadway which is prohibited in MCL 257.634(1)

“Upon each roadway of sufficient width, the driver of a vehicle shall drive the vehicle upon the right half of the roadway …”

There are some exceptions to this section of law such as passing or maneuvering to get around an obstruction; however, of the exceptions listed, getting your mail from a mailbox does not qualify as one of them. A good practice would be to park in your driveway and walk to your mailbox as not to disrupt the flow of traffic or potentially cause an accident.

Ashley Simpson is a Community Service Trooper for the MSP Alpena Post. If you have a question for Trooper Simpson, you can email her at asktroopersimpson@gmail.com or mail them to Ask A Trooper, Michigan State Police Alpena Post, 3283 W. Washington Ave, Alpena, MI 49707.