All drivers 'above average'?

Saturday, December 25, 2010; 9:09 PM

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am sure most drivers think they are good drivers. I have been driving for many years, still drive daily around this area, and I don't think there is such a thing as a good driver, myself included. A good driver consistently obeys all traffic laws and is courteous to others. The traffic laws I see violated daily and showing drivers to be bad drivers are: Exceeding speed limits by more than 10 mph and failing to come to a full stop before turning right on red. Many drivers don't even slow down. A full stop means the vehicle is not moving.

Also: Crossing solid white lines on the road. There are many such lines around construction areas on the Virginia side of Interstate 495, and drivers consistently ignore them while talking on hand-held cellphones.

Gordon F. Brown, Bethesda

There is a Lake Wobegon effect among drivers. Tom Vanderbilt cites it in his wonderful book, "Traffic ," in trying to explain surveys that show a majority of drivers consider themselves above average. We tend to rank ourselves higher, he says, when the activity in question is thought to be relatively easy and the skills in question are ambiguous. An Olympic pole vaulter, comparing her performance with the other athletes, would be under no illusions about her ranking. But how about a driver who simply makes it home without crashing?

Along the way, he might have gotten a ticket for speeding, or running a red light. Wouldn't that serve as a measuement of driving skills since we were trained back in driving school not to do that? No, drivers often tell me, "they're just trying to raise revenue."

Metro & 'Wilson Bridge'

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I went into D.C. last Sunday via Metro and knew there was single-tracking on the Blue Line between Braddock Road and Van Dorn Street stations. The reason given on was "maintenance work related to the Wilson Bridge project." Do you know how this relates to Metro?

Nancy Jerdan, Springfield

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