The street on which I live has at the end of its name the word "Road." Just a couple of blocks away there is a street whose name ends in "Terrace" but that otherwise has the same name as my street. My family often gets mail intended for the other address. On occasion we answer the doorbell and find startled looks on the faces of callers when they realize the street number is right but that we are definitely not the people they came to visit.

Of course, these are minor annoyances. But it seems clear that if the mailman can get crossed up, so could ambulance drivers or firefighters. Then it could be a matter of life or death.

Sadly, I now see that this problem isn't confined to my suburban subdivision. A man recently died in Northeast Washington when an ambulance went to Holbrook Street instead of Holbrook Terrace.

The Washington area must be filled with similar street-naming cases that invite more tragedies. It is time for governing bodies to deal with this problem by eliminating duplicate names in the same municipality. Doing so would cause temporary inconvenience and confusion, and it would cost money to put up new signs and to change addresses on stationery and business cards. But that would be a small price to pay if one life could be saved. JON SHURE Rockville