Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I wonder if you have any opinion on the British way of handling traffic lights. It's been a while since I have been there, but at the time, their lights went from red to yellow to green. From green, they went directly to red.

This avoided having people mashing down on the gas when the yellow light warned of the light turning red, as people do here. Green to red means stop -- now.

Yellow means that cars waiting at a red light could proceed with caution, after checking for any cars not able to stop for the instant red light.

Robert Boise

Temple Hills

And we think we've got a problem with red-light running now! Wow. You mean you're tooling along a secondary road at 45 mph, and as you approach a green light it suddenly and without warning changes to red? Can we say "Screeech!" and "Ka-boom!" and rear-end collisions?

I don't see how this could work here, but as always, I will consider the wisdom of the readership. I'd like to hear your views.

The Source of Va. Tags

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Douglas Taylor of Indian Head is puzzled by the number of Virginia license tags he sees commuting from Southern Maryland [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 3].

As a fellow resident of Charles County who lives off U.S. Route 301, I can account for at least some of them.

Many Virginia cars cross the Potomac River bridge from King George County, Virginia, on Route 301, then take back roads to Route 210 (Indian Head Highway) to get to their jobs in the District.

Carol Rife

Bel Alton

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

A reader asks why there is such a large number of cars commuting from the Southern Maryland area with Virginia tags [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 3].

This probably has something to do with the Navy transferring its Naval Air Systems Command Headquarters from Crystal City to Patuxent River a few years ago.

This would also include the contractors who support this Navy activity.

I suspect a large numbers of these employees lived in Northern Virginia.

Darrell Bachman

Kent Island

A Tailgating Target

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Is there a profile for people who tailgate? It happens to me quite often. I drive a small four-cylinder car. When the air conditioning is on, my car will not accelerate quickly.

Do I forfeit my right to drive on I-95 because of this?

I do the speed limit, but a tailgater will attempt to push me faster in the right lane.

Laurel Jade


The fact of driving life in our area is that no matter what lane you're in, or how fast you're going, some nut will try to run over your car. If you're staying right, and still getting tailgated, I don't know what to tell you. Maybe readers have a suggestion.

An Unneeded Diversion

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I thought your answer to Mike Mills on Sunday [Sept. 29] was inappropriate. We have enough distractions to be listening to Books-On-Tape while we drive. Driving here demands our full attention. Who can concentrate on a book?

Sharon Anderson


Many readers have highly recommended audio books as a way to combat commuter tedium. I haven't heard them express your concern.

Overfed Parking Meters

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

This is in response to Tim Cline's letter concerning meter feeding and moving your car ["How Close Is Too Close," Metro, Sept. 28]. Over the past 20 years, I have parked intermittently on the streets near my workplace in downtown Washington.

My co-workers and I have never been fined for meter feeding. We park in one place all day. As long as the meter is fed, I don't believe the city cares who is doing it.

The parking control aides appear to monitor only those cars on streets with two-hour free parking.

Tracy Frazier


Count yourself lucky. What you are doing, in feeding the meter, is a violation of District parking rules. Parking control aides have been known to make notes of which vehicle parks where and issue a ticket if the car is still there beyond the posted time limit. This is regardless of whether the motorist still has time left on the meter.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Prince George's Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.