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I seem to recall my mailbox having instructions on what the proper setback was from the curb for mounting it. Unfortunately, I was too lazy to re-set the post for the mounting hardware after the snowplow took out my mailbox last year, and didn't want to move the post even though the hardware was different, and I remember that the instructions gave a setback, which I was technically not complying with (as the new mailbox had different mounting hardware).

As I can see from looking out the window that my mailbox got taken out again this year ... at what distance should I have it from the front of the curb? (and I'm in the U.S.)

(UFPI says a "must be at least 8 to 12 inches away from the curb of the street"; claims 6-9 inches; eHow claims 6-8 inches)

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If you are only leaving 12 inches form the curb, how does someone get past in a wheelchair without being forced get down the curb into the road? What about all the people that wish to walk along the sidewalk you are blocking. Why not just put your mail box in your front door and not block the public sidewalk? –  Walker Jan 27 '11 at 9:13
@Walker - I'm assuming the OP lives in a more rural area, were the mail carriers do not walk around to deliver mail. In these areas they drive, so the mailbox has to be close enough to the street that they can reach it from their truck. –  Tester101 Jan 27 '11 at 12:53
@Walker : Well, the last zoning re-designated us as 'developing' not 'rural', but still no sidewalk to block -- when they finally installed the curb a few years ago, the sidewalk was only put on the other side of the street. (which we've taken objection to, as I live on a state highway, and the state won't put in a crosswalk, as there's no sidewalk on my side as a 'landing' for the crosswalk to connect to. –  Joe Jan 27 '11 at 15:19

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

6-8 inches from the curb according to the official USPS website.

Of course, this refers to the location of the door relative to the front face of the curb. If the plow is taking out the post, rather than the box itself, you could install a post that is angled, rather than vertical. My dad would cement a 6-foot steel fence post 5 feet into the ground in front of the mailbox post. "That'll show 'em!"

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+1 for checking with the USPS, go right to the source. Gotta be careful though about the "ultra sturdy" mailbox. Friend of mine did the same thing and encountered some legal issues because the mailbox didn't "break away" when struck and caused some damage to a car that slid into it on an icy road. I'm not sure if that's a state-by-state law or not. In any event it kept several young thugs from playing "baseball" with said mailbox. –  Scott Vercuski Jan 27 '11 at 12:24
Thanks ... I finally found it on their website (they didn't use the term 'setback' which I was trying to use via google w/ ), just a minute or two before my UPS finally died so I lost my internet connection. –  Joe Jan 27 '11 at 15:20

At least 6 inches back from the farthest the snowplow came off the road in order to hit said mailbox.

Really there's what's legal and what's practical. As long as your mail person will still deliver, try to get it back from where the plows run because the city is never going to pay for their screw ups. Another good way to find out your safe distance is to walk over to a couple of neighbors who didn't lose their box to a plow and see how far theirs are set back.

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I had set it further forward because I'm lazy about trimming the grass ... with it forward, I can get to almost all of it just via mowing. (I used to have it set back from the street, but up against the driveway, but it mysteriously disappeared one day, oddly on the same day I got an oil delivery, so there likely was a large truck backing out of my driveway that day) ... and it's the state, not the town ... and if I got the town to pay, there'd be other issues (as I'm a town comissioner, so it'd open a whole can of worms) –  Joe Jan 27 '11 at 15:24

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