Dear Dr. Gridlock:

What are you? A wimp? I've read your column several times, and have never seen the subject of HOV lanes mentioned. It is obvious that HOV lanes are the main cause of traffic congestion. If you are keeping HOV lanes out of your column because this is "old news," you're still a wimp. Your column could be used to show that the people are mad as hell, and won't take it any longer.

I've lived in three states, including California, all without HOV lanes. In all cases, a 20-mile commute took around 20 minutes. In the Northern Virginia area, it takes an hour and a half. This keeps inner Beltway housing outrageously high. Let's take the bull by the horns, let's build more lanes, with everyone's money, and let everyone drive on those lanes. Dr. Gridlock, it's time you do something to help! JEFFREY W. GIBBS Woodbridge

Now put down your broken fan belt, Mr. Gibbs, and let's talk about this. It is a good topic.

For those not familiar with HOV, the term stands for High Occupancy Vehicle, and in this area that means express lanes set aside for commuters in car pools, vans and buses during rush hours. The principal HOV lanes are in Virginia: Lanes are reserved along I-395 and I-95 during rush hours for vehicles containing four or more people, and on I-66 only vehicles with three or more people can use the highway during rush hours. Virginia officials claim the incentive provided by the faster trips on express lanes promotes pooling and is an efficient way to get cars off the road. District of Columbia officials say that reduces the number of cars in a city already jammed with traffic.

Many motorists like the express lanes. However, others, like you, are furious that HOV lanes are set aside for one type of commuter while others have to inch their way to work in heavier traffic. Anything said here probably is not going to move Virginia highway officials, who seem to be committed to HOV lanes. (This may not be the case with all local legislators and members of Congress, though).

As you request, let's focus on HOV lanes. Motorists are invited to comment. We'll look at the responses, and examine how officials in Virginia and in other states, including Maryland, feel about restricted lanes. There's no sense that things will change, but there may be some value in focusing on the matter, particularly considering how fast this area is growing. Let's see what arrives in the mail. Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have a suggestion to help alleviate some traffic: Start the Metrorail system on weekdays at 5 a.m. There are many of us who could start work at 6 a.m., but cannot ride Metrorail to do so. There are also others who must start work earlier than Metro can get them there. Traffic on all major routes is quite heavy at 5 a.m. I feel that if Metro started at 5 a.m., the additional riders and revenue would justify the extra hour's expense. And it would be a step in the right direction concerning traffic problems. GEORGE A. TAYLOR Hagerstown

Your question becomes more relevant every day, what with the area population expanding outward and folks having to get up earlier to make long commutes.

A Metro spokeswoman, Marilyn Dicus, says she is not aware of any movement to change the hours, and the Metro staff is not recommending any change for the next budget year, beginning July 1. She said the hours are determined by budget considerations. When the entire system is completed, Dicus said, the plan is for it to operate from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays rather than the current 6 a.m. to midnight. But the system won't be completed until the next decade, if then.

However, a spokesman for Joseph Alexander, a Fairfax County supervisor and the outgoing head of the Metro board, said a change in hours is possible. "We have received numerous calls in our office voicing these same concerns," said Dana Kauffman. "I don't believe it's a dead issue."

We hope Metro will take a hard look at your suggestion, Mr. Taylor. Here at The Post we are hearing more and more from readers, particularly in outlying areas, who want their morning paper ever earlier to read it before they have to hit the road.

A number of New Year's resolutions for area traffic officials continue to come in. Here are more:

Resolved: To increase the number of left-turn arrows at District stoplights. Going into the District after driving in Virginia is a nightmare in this respect. JULIANNA BICKUS Sterling

In front of the Kennedy Warren {building} and the zoo on Connecticut Avenue are three foolish traffic signals that impede cars in both directions. Let the District finally resolve to correct this situation. SHARON AGRONSKY Washington

I would like to mention two of my many grievances with the metro area traffic systems. The first is directed at Maryland and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway -- why are there no access and exit lanes at many of the interchanges?

The second is to the City of Alexandria -- why are the laws requiring a business to clear its adjoining sidewalks of snow within 24 hours not enforced? I find it extremely dangerous to have to share the street with the cars because some building or shop owner is too lazy or too cheap to clear off his sidewalk. MALCOLM BARR Alexandria

Many accidents can be prevented by inserting reflectors along highways -- particularly the Beltway. During rainy or cloudy nights {white lines} cannot be seen in places. This is vital to night driving. Rte. 50 near Fair Oaks Mall has some strategically placed reflectors. R.G. RUFF Fairfax

Remove snow from roofs of vehicles. An icy sheet of snow hitting a windshield at 45 mph . . . is dangerous. SARAH BOOHER Alexandria

Median strip curbs are very difficult to see on rainy or foggy nights. If they were painted with light-reflecting yellow paint they would become as visible as the double yellow lines separating the direction of traffic flow. JANE N. MARSHALL Rockville

As you are well aware, there are numerous traffic situations that can be improved in the Washington area. The following is one that I have encountered in my commute from Rockville to Northern Virginia. The Spout Run merge on the George Washington Parkway heading toward Rosslyn in the morning is a major backup point. Every morning there is a park policeman to direct traffic. If another lane was added between the merge and Key Bridge, this would eliminate the need for several {officers} to put their lives in jeopardy every morning, and it would provide a mechanism for merging a portion of the backup. ALLAN SHAPIRO Rockville

For the New Year, I'd like the Maryland Department of Transportation to construct a second lane on the ramp that comes off the southbound Baltimore-Washington Parkway merging into New York Avenue near the Anacostia River bridge in Prince George's County. Morning traffic on this ramp comes to a standstill for almost a mile. MUMIA SHIMAKA-MBASU Riverdale

As you are aware, there are numerous traffic situations that can be improved in the Washington area. The following is one that I have encountered in my commute from Rockville to Northern Virginia. The Spout Run merge on the George Washington Parkway heading toward Rosslyn in the morning is a major backup point. Every morning there is a park policeman to direct traffic. If another lane was added between the merge and Key Bridge, this would eliminate the need for several {officers} to put their lives in jeopardy every morning, and it would provide a mechanism for merging a portion of the backup. ALLAN SHAPIRO ROCKVILLE

Median strip curbs are very difficult to see on rainy or foggy nights. If they were painted with light-reflecting yellow paint they would become as visible as the double yellow lines separating the direction of traffic flow. JANE N. MARSHALL Rockville

Dr Gridlock appears in this section each Friday to explore what makes it difficult to get around on roads. We'll try to find out why bad situations exist and what is being done about them. You can suggest topics by writing to GRIDLOCK, c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.