In the Sept. 29 column, reader Ruth Mundell said that since she traded an old station wagon for a Jeep Wrangler, she was having trouble being allowed to merge. It seems that more people wouldn't let her in. She asked why. Some explained themselves in the Oct. 17 column. Here is another round of driver thinking about who should get to merge in front of whom:

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I own a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is big but certainly not as obnoxious and view-blocking as the oversize crew like Excursions, Escalades and Sequoias. Heck, they even block my view!

I do recognize that my vehicle can block others' views of the traffic in front of me, and I take courteous action to accommodate that.

When appropriate, I will try to ride in the rightmost side of whatever lane I'm in to give those behind me a view from the center and left portions of the lane. Lanes are about 12 feet wide, and my Jeep is about six feet wide, so there's a lot of viewing room that can be permitted by doing this.

But my biggest contribution to drivers' relief has been my decision to take Metrorail to work in the District starting this month. My employer subsidizes that cost, so it's win-win for everyone.

Gerry Minetos


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Pity the poor drivers of lower-height vehicles who "try not to let" taller vehicles merge. Poor babies!

So it's "inconvenient" for some people to drive behind me, so they "try not to let" my big, scary van merge. These, no doubt, are the same people who gladly merge when I slow a little to let them in, and who rush around me and pull in front when I allow a safe distance between me and the vehicle I'm following.

Wayne Keyser


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

People must remember that if you make the SUV get behind you, they probably have their fog lights on even if the sun is shining. Then you have to put up with being blinded by these lights. Therefore, it is a no-win solution.

George Bogart


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Letting someone in also has to do with the driver's attitude and driving style. I am much more likely to let someone in if they are politely waiting to merge. If a driver is being aggressive and he or she feels entitled to being let in, I always speed up. That is more likely the issue; it has nothing to do with the kind of car he or she is driving.

Michael Knight


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I was disheartened to read of all the people who try to keep SUVs and other large vehicles from merging in front of them because their views are limited. I am the world's biggest SUV hater, but that doesn't give me the right to be discourteous or, more important, to be unsafe by blocking access to traffic. This involves tailgating the next car to prevent the truck in question from entering, and then requires the truck to be aggressive in order to merge.

As much as I hate to admit it, SUVs have as much right to the road as any other vehicle. Many of your responders seemed to insist petulantly that SUV drivers "deserved" to be mistreated because they chose such a large vehicle to drive.

Even if this were the case (a big if), that test doesn't hold up when applied to drivers of school buses, delivery trucks, 18-wheelers, panel vans, minivans, motor coaches and many other large vehicles, all of whom have good reasons for driving such trucks.

I drive a small car myself and also hate to have my view blocked, but I have a simple solution: If I can't easily change lanes, rather than becoming more aggressive, I slow down to create more space between me and the view-blocking vehicle, and inevitably other cars fill the space in front of me, thus providing me with all the view I need.

This may seem heretical to the go-go drivers around here, but I actually make very good time, giving myself enough room to see the traffic and to be able to make lane changes as needed.

Like many others, I wish there were fewer SUVs on the road, but I don't think aggressive driving is an appropriate response to the problem.

Steve Latourette


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I drive a Ford Expedition and a Toyota Camry, and I have found that many drivers in this area are pretty much rude to anyone trying to merge.

If people would just follow the "zipper" merging technique, as previously described in your column, and quit practicing vehicular bigotry, the traffic flow would be much improved.

This safety justification that they use for not allowing anything to merge that they can't see around is a flimsy excuse for rude and aggressive driving behavior. I'm not buying it, and neither should you or anyone else.

By using this excuse, it allows them to feel that they are morally superior to all the other aggressive drivers. If they are following at a safe distance -- not riding the person's bumper who is in front of them -- and driving a vehicle with functioning brakes, they should be able to stop safely.

Stephanie Brown


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I read your column today about drivers being discourteous and refusing to let the woman with the Jeep Wrangler merge into traffic (among other vehicles) and the various excuses (yes, they are excuses) for that.

I call them excuses because I drive a 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer, and the same thing happens to me. The Lancer is an extremely inexpensive four-door sedan. No one has a problem seeing the road ahead with me in front of them, and I still have problems trying to merge into traffic. The real problem is that everyone on the road has the "me first" attitude.

The thing that really irritates me is when I'm trying to get over to the right, some idiot will undoubtedly try to pass me on the right and not let me over. Here's a hint: If you see a car that was going a bit faster in the left lanes slowing down and trying to change lanes to the right, it's a good bet that the person's exit is coming up and they're trying to leave the highway. Let them over!

J.D. Walker


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The column about drivers who won't let SUVs merge in front of them is proof of how discourteous and unsafe these drivers are. Then they had the nerve to try and justify their actions.

Why get discourteous and unsafe because a large vehicle wants to merge in front of you? These large vehicles have the right to be on the road.

Get over it, and drive safely and courteously. Stop making excuses for your poor driving habits.

Steven Billig


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Say what you like about our trucks. Moan and complain all you want. Complain about 18-wheelers, box trucks and the like. Food does not magically appear on your grocers shelf; houses just don't grow out of the ground; your clothes do not suddenly appear in stores; the gas you have in your car did not magically appear.

Not everyone who drives an SUV is an egomaniac; some are doctors, firefighters, policemen, hospital workers and the like, and they have to be able to get to work no matter what.

And besides, if you did not tailgate me, you might be able to see around me.

G.W. Green

South Riding

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Haven't we heard about enough from the drivers of subcompact vehicles? You know, they're the ones who feel they are the only drivers who have a right to be on any of the D.C. area roads.

First, we learned that they cannot abide having anyone driving anything larger than their vehicle behind them, because "those headlights are mounted too high, and I can't see." Now, it seems that they cannot stand to have any vehicle larger than their own driving in front of them, either, because "I can't see around those monsters."

The subcompact drivers who wrote to you apparently have no problem with aggressive driving, as long as they are the ones doing it. Kathleen Anderson writes about SUVs, "I prefer not to let them into my lane."

Most of the others also indicate they deliberately block access to larger vehicles and complain about not being able to see anything when behind SUVs or minivans or whatever vehicle may not be the same as their car.

Are not both the SUV and the subcompact legal? And don't they have equal access to all roadways in the area?

If these complaining drivers would not tailgate, they would find that they could, indeed, see the traffic around and ahead of them. They must remember, if the car in front of them stops for any reason, and they are not able to avoid running into it, the following car is always at fault for careless driving. The complaint that the driver in front was in a larger vehicle will not excuse the liability related to following too closely.

If everyone would use a little common sense while driving, there would be fewer tempers flaring out there. I won't delude myself that anything will change, though, since it seems that there will always be an attitude of "me; first, last, and always" prevalent among drivers in this area.

Marvin Anseth


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I hugely appreciated the responses you published. My husband and I drive compact Toyotas -- Camry and Corolla -- and we are constantly irritated by drivers who expect me to turn right on red or perform other maneuvers that are visually impossible because of the huge SUVs, etc., blocking my line of sight. I understand that they may be able to see, but I can't!

Peg Heeter


Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Alexandria Arlington 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.