Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Recently, my fiance and I were stopped at a stoplight on North Glebe Road in Ballston when we were rear-ended by another car. The impact was minimal. My fiance got out of the car to check the damage, which amounted to a small ding in our rear bumper--nothing worth reporting. The driver of the other vehicle was apologetic and said his brakes weren't working. My fiance suggested that he refrain from driving his car until he got it fixed, and we were on our way.

As we drove off, I wrote down the license plate number of the car thinking it would be a good idea to report it to the police as unsafe. When we returned home and called the Arlington police, they told us that there was nothing they could do unless we filed a claim against the driver.

Is there any way to report an unsafe driver/vehicle without getting in a serious accident first? I wouldn't want anyone else to fall victim to this driver's strategy of stopping by ramming into the car in front of him, but we don't have any reason to file a claim.



Well, Ms. Mistry, it seems there was some confusion with the officer you spoke to that night. As it turns out, it's not too late to report the brake-less driver.

According to Cpl. Justin McNaull, Arlington County police spokesman, that is considered reckless driving. The driver could go to jail for such behavior.

McNaull said the best move in such a situation is to call the police right away. Even if the vehicles involved were only minimally damaged, it's still a good idea to call the police from the scene. You can call 911. If an officer isn't available to come to the scene, authorities will give you a non-emergency number to call when you get home.

Although you already had left the scene, the local police station should have been able to take the information. McNaull said that even after an incident, police still can identify the car by the tag number and visit the driver's home to investigate the vehicle.

For the safety of everyone, we all need to keep an eye out for reckless drivers and report any incidents we see.

Rough Roads After Trenching

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Can you refresh our memory about who is responsible for restoring a smooth road surface after nongovernmental utility crews dig up the streets? A recent round of trench digging left a zigzag pattern down street surfaces of areas like Massachusetts Avenue near American University and on Reno Road in Northwest.

It appears that the contractors have covered their trenches in permanent black-top paving, but the road surface is rough for cars and downright dangerous for bicyclists.

Can't a local jurisdiction require that these private, for-profit enterprises restore the road to at least as good a condition as existed before their work?



Dr. Gridlock spoke to Gary Burch, the District's chief traffic engineer, about this one. This is a particularly hot issue with the installation of fiber-optic cables across the city.

Burch said the repairs made after trench work are temporary. Permanent repairs follow completion of any underground installations by the utility and communications companies.

He also said all permanent repairs are made to District requirements, inspected by the District and at no cost to the city.

Scoping Out Metro Parking

Dr. Gridlock gets many letters about parking lots that fill up quickly at Metro stations. We talked to Metro and got a copy of its most recent survey on how many parking spaces are at each station and the approximate time all the spots become full.


* Dunn Loring: 1,322 spaces; filled by 8 a.m.

* East Falls Church: 422 spaces; filled by 7:30 a.m.

* Franconia/Springfield: 3,856 spaces; only 90 percent filled.

* Huntington: 3,090 spaces; only 80 percent filled.

* Van Dorn: 361 spaces; filled by 7:30 a.m.

* Vienna: 3,641 spaces; filled by 7:45 a.m.

* West Falls Church: 1,062 spaces; filled by 7:45 a.m.


* Anacostia: 808 spaces; filled by 7:30 a.m.

* Deanwood: 192 spaces; filled by 8 a.m.

* Fort Totten: 408 spaces; filled by 7:30 a.m.

* Minnesota Avenue: 333 spaces; filled by 7:45 a.m.

* Rhode Island Avenue: 340 spaces; filled by 7:30 a.m.


* Addison Road: 1,263 spaces; filled by 7:30 a.m.

* Capitol Heights: 373 spaces; filled by 7:30 a.m.

* Cheverly: 530 spaces; filled by 7:30 a.m.

* College Park: 530 spaces; filled by 7:30 a.m.

* Forest Glen: 596 spaces; filled by 8 a.m.

* Glenmont: 1,781 spaces; filled by 8 a.m.

* Greenbelt: 3,358 spaces; only 90 percent filled.

* Grosvenor: 642 spaces; filled by 7:30 a.m.

* Landover: 1,866 spaces; filled by 8:15 a.m.

* New Carrollton: 1,980 spaces; filled by 7:45 a.m.

* Prince George's Plaza: 1,068 spaces; only 65 percent filled.

* Rockville: 624 spaces; filled by 7:45 a.m.

* Shady Grove: 2,950 spaces; filled by 8:30 a.m.

* Twinbrook: 1,098 spaces; only 75 percent filled.

* West Hyattsville: 453 spaces; only 75 percent filled.

* Wheaton: 977 spaces; only 30 percent filled.

* White Flint: 991 spaces; only 80 percent filled.

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

Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and Thursday in Loudoun 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.