Reader Laurel Jade of Columbia complained about being tailgated constantly in her four-cylinder car. I asked for your advice. Here is some:

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

People will tailgate in this area even if you are going 10 miles above the speed limit in the fast lane! When I have a tailgater behind me, I first try to change lanes to let them pass.

The driver in the right lane who is being tailgated might also try putting on the emergency flashers. Usually, the person who is tailgating will get exasperated and pass at that point.

Sharon Anderson


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Many people complain of tailgating. My friend, who finds herself a victim more often than I do, has a solution. When I've been in the car with her, it has worked every time.

She slowly but deliberately takes her foot off the accelerator, slowing both her vehicle and the tailgater behind her. Inevitably, the guy will move quickly into the left lane and pass.

Kevin Hackett


Sight Lines

Reader Liza Recto of Lexington Park asked why drivers stop well behind the white stop line when they are the first at a traffic light. I asked the audience. Here are some of your thoughts:

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I always stop about a car length behind the white line to see the traffic signal. I am 6 feet 4 inches tall. The windshield curves up to the roof of the car. I can't see the signal unless I lean forward and extend my neck backward to look up. It is very uncomfortable.

I have two alternatives to this painful procedure:

1. Ignore the light and wait for the person behind me to honk when the signal changes.

2. Stop short of the white line at the intersection so I can see the signal without the strain.

The delay in acceleration once the light is green is negligible, so I don't think it inconveniences anyone, but given Ms. Recto's letter, I guess it can be irritating. I hope my reply lessens that irritation for readers who feel that way.

Patrick Noone


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In summer, if there's shade a car length or two back and none at the white line, then I'll wait in the shade for the traffic light to change. What's the big deal anyway?

Bill Akerley

Silver Spring

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In my experience, this is a rare phenomenon. Usually, cars are all the way across the crosswalk, considerably in front of the stop line. They believe that the six feet they gain by jamming their front bumper over the line or next to the car in front will get them where they are going that much faster.

George E. Sauer


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I normally stop about one or two feet behind the white line at stoplights but sometimes feel that I should stop much farther back! I'm skittish because I once was involved in an accident simply by being stopped at a light.

The accident happened between two cross-street cars. One car hit another, then pushed it into mine, which was stopped at the light, destroying the front of my car. Since that day, I have seen so many people running red lights, turning left in front of oncoming traffic and just generally driving so unsafely that I feel positively unlucky to be the first person in line at a red light.

Perhaps the real question here should be, "Why do people stop so far over the white line? Why do they begin to creep into the intersection long before the light changes to green?"

Gene Cowan


Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

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