Stayin’ Safe: Tracking Arrival of the Unexpected

Stayin Safe
It’s easy to overlook mailboxes and trash cans along the road, but both mean potential stopped vehicles up ahead. Photo by the author.

Your clues about potential risks are in the mail. And the trash.

Today, in the age of Amazon, we have an unprecedented ability to track shipments, know exactly where a parcel is at any given point and even when it will arrive on our doorstep. Imagine having that same ability to predict the arrival of potential threats out on the road. Fortunately, that information may be right under our nose. Or, more accurately, at the edge of the road. As we enjoy a ride down a rolling and twisting country back road and take in the view of the countryside, we often overlook key “tracking” information or fail to assign meaning to seemingly unimposing visual cues. Like mailboxes.

Along back roads, mailboxes are often placed immediately at the road’s edge. That means postal vehicles must stop on the road, at least partially obstructing the lane, to fill those boxes. Recognize that mailboxes are notices there may be a postal carrier parked at another box just beyond our view.       Remember, even small hillcrests (such as the one in the photo above) can hide vehicles from view. Mailboxes to your left update you that a postal carrier may be approaching from the opposite direction and oncoming drivers may need to swing wide to get around it.

While we’re looking for valuable threat tracking information, consider those trash cans at the curbside. They are a good indication of a refuse pickup day—and the increased likelihood that a stopped garbage truck and wandering sanitation workers will be delivered into your riding scene just ahead.

So, the next time you see a line of mailboxes along the edge of a rural roadway or trash cans at the curb, they may just be delivering an important tracking message to you: “Your surprise package will be delivered in approximately 500 feet.”


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