Dear Dr. Gridlock:

May I respond to Mary Klausner, who asked in a recent Dr. Gridlock column what goes through the minds of people who "zoom around a line of cars and cut in at the front?"

How about these:

* Maybe the line cutter has an interview for the job of a lifetime and was delayed by no fault of her own.

* Maybe he has to visit the restroom really, really badly.

* Maybe she had a truly awful day, and for once in her life decided to cut in line.

* Maybe his wife is having a baby.

* Maybe her father has had a heart attack.

* Sometimes the other person's business is more important than yours.

I let other drivers merge in front of me. It costs all of a few seconds and probably makes someone else's day a little better.

So stop worrying about other people's behavior. It's amazing how much your mood will improve.



I believe the transgressors cited in that earlier column were regular commuters heading into Washington on Route 4 in Prince George's County, hence unlikely to have fallen into the group you list. However, thanks for another perspective. Your recommended tolerance probably keeps the blood pressure down. Here's more:

Forcing the Issue

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have never let anyone cut in front of me. But I have had some drivers force their way in, anyway, by turning unexpectedly so that the nose of their car is suddenly between my car and the one in front of me. I then have to let the person in, unless I drive into them.



How About Barriers?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The mother of all lane-cutting locations in the District of Columbia is where inbound Interstate 66 divides, with the left lane going onto the Whitehurst Freeway and the right lane going onto 26th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

During morning rush hour, the lane to Pennsylvania Avenue is backed up for blocks, while the lane to Whitehurst Freeway has no wait. So, a parade of cabdrivers and self-important people zoom around on the left each day and cut in on the right at the last moment.

One day recently, my colleague observed a D.C. police officer posted at the divide to force drivers to stay in their lanes and not cut in.

Can't this be addressed, if not with more permanent enforcement, then with Jersey barriers?



If you install Jersey barriers, don't you just move the cheating back to the end of the barriers? Periodic enforcement would seem like the logical approach.

D.C. Police to the Rescue

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

After reading your column about line cutters, I felt compelled to tell you of the efficient way that I've seen D.C. police handle such behavior.

There are several areas in the District where line cutting is chronic: Canal Road to M Street, Key Bridge to Canal Road, and I-66 inbound to the Whitehurst Bridge/Pennsylvania Avenue split.

At random times during rush hours, a D.C. police officer will stand near the front of the line and physically obstruct line cutters from barging in at the head of the line.

This forces cutters to continue in the direction their lane intended, which is not what they want to do.

Kudos to the D.C. police for keeping traffic moving and sending a clear message to the cutters that their behavior will not be tolerated.

I have noticed dozens of the patient drivers roll down their windows to thank the officer. The gratitude from so many drivers must be rewarding.



It has to be. That's a perfect marriage of police traffic enforcement and the public at large. Thank you, police. Imagine those pernicious line cutters forced into East Oblivion because they are not permitted to barge into line. Go, police!

Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and on Thursday in Southern Maryland Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or e-mail him at The Doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.