Dear Dr. Gridlock:
My daughter got a $50 traffic ticket for a "yellow light violation" in the District of Columbia last week. She explained that she felt it was safest to proceed through the intersection because the traffic light had turned yellow just as she entered it.
The officer said she had time to stop before proceeding through the intersection. The policeman chastised her for not knowing the rules. I never heard of this.
Could you please clarify the situation?
Barry C. Gorman, M.D.
We all face these choices in our daily driving, and they often require instantaneous decisions: to gun through the intersection, or to jam on the brakes. It's a judgment call by the motorist, and one by the officer on the scene. A lot of us have no doubt violated this law.
Under District of Columbia traffic law, a vehicle facing a steady yellow light "shall stop before entering the nearest crosswalk of the intersection, unless so close to the intersection that a stop cannot safely be made."
Because your daughter felt she could not stop safely, appealing the ticket to the D.C. Bureau of Adjudication might be in order.
Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, found that Virginia also has a law that prohibits running yellow lights. Most of the time, officers are not going to issue citations unless the motorist accelerates to make it through the intersection on yellow, according to Lucy Caldwell, spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police.
Maryland does not have a yellow light law, and as long as motorists clear the intersection before the light turns red, they should be okay, according to Maryland State Police.
Officials in all jurisdictions will cite drivers for running a red light if they are in any part of an intersection when the light turns red.
The way people drive in this metropolitan area, it is sometimes dangerous to stop on a yellow light for fear of being rear-ended by some maniac. The instant answer to that circumstance is to go on through. Any comments?
Metro Lost and Found
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
What happens to the lost articles turned in to Metro that are never claimed?
Metro keeps lost items for 30 days, then applies a 15-day grace period after which:
* Inexpensive items are returned to the finders (Metro employees excluded) or, if refused, donated to charity.
* Expensive items are auctioned, with proceeds going into the Metro fund.
"We do everything possible to track down the owners," said Cheryl Y. Johnson, spokeswoman for Metro.
Most frequently found items: books, purses, wallets, umbrellas, computers.
Most bizarre items: horse saddle, wheelchair (both returned to owners).
Most money found: $2,600 in a woman's purse (also returned to owner).
Average number of found items turned in each year--2,200.
The Metro number to call to turn in a found item, or report a lost one, is 202-962-1195.
Cab Fares From National
Some consumers have expressed confusion/concern about the correct taxi fares between our three airports and passenger destinations. Here is a guide to costs, and taxicab hints, from Reagan National Airport, put out by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority:
Crystal City Underground, $4
Rosslyn, Alexandria City Hall, $8
Falls Church City Hall, $15
Annandale Business Center, $16
Springfield Mall, $17
Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County Government, $26
Dulles Airport, $43
District of Columbia
Capitol Hilton, U.S. Capitol, $8
RFK Stadium, $11
National Zoo, $13
Catholic University, $14
Walter Reed Hospital, $16
Chevy Chase, Oxon Hill, Suitland, District Heights, Hyattsville, $18
Bethesda, College Park, $21
US Airways Arena, Andrews AFB, Holy Cross Hospital, $23
Redskins Stadium, Goddard Space Flight Center, $27
Rockville, Briggs Chaney Plaza, $32
BWI Airport, $60
Oriole Park, Baltimore, $73
The airports authority also advises that all cabs are required to take the most direct route. Meters must be turned on after (not before) you enter a metered cab. There will be an airport fee of $1.75 charged.
For more information about taxicab service from National Airport, call 703-417-0981.
If you'd like a copy of the taxicab rates from National, call 703-417-8745.
Dr. Gridlock will work on getting similar taxi information for Dulles and BWI airports.
Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.
Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and on Wednesday and Thursday in the Weekly and Extra sections. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or e-mail him at email@example.com. The doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.