Dear Dr. Gridlock:

People like Jim Woods, who espoused cruising in the left lane [Dr. Gridlock, Jan. 9], should read the Virginia Drivers Manual, which clearly lists failure to yield right of way in the left lane (which is for passing, not cruising) as a ticketable offense.

By failing to move over, as per law, you are making the situation go from bad to dangerous. How would you like it if I just arbitrarily decided to set the cruise control at 46 mph on the Beltway (still a legal speed) and camp in the left lane? Dumb.

His is by far the worst letter I have ever read in your column.

Kyle W. Thompson

Leesburg

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

You are quite correct on what Virginia law says on the subject; to wit: "Drivers to give way to certain overtaking vehicles on divided highways.

"It shall be unlawful to fail to give way to overtaking traffic when driving a motor vehicle to the left and abreast of another motor vehicle on a divided highway. On audible or light signal, the driver of the overtaken vehicle shall move to the right to allow the overtaking vehicle to pass as soon as the overtaken vehicle can safely do so."

Reading this literally, it doesn't seem to require that you move over unless you are abreast of another motor vehicle. Moreover, when required to move over, you don't have to do so until it is safe -- one would presume that the driver of the vehicle being overtaken makes that decision.

Finally, just because you are overtaken doesn't mean that you have to move over. According to the law as written, you don't have to move until receiving an audible or light signal.

John Drake

Sterling

Escalating Spin Control

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein's spin on the escalator debacle makes for good reading, but the "un-spun" story was already published in The Post.

By December 2002, the blue ribbon panel had completed its review of Metro's escalator and elevator problems, undoubtedly after consultation with the mechanics, and drafted a report laying the blame squarely at the feet of those mechanics, citing incompetence and lack of training.

That report was about to be issued when, not surprisingly, the mechanics objected. Rather than risk alienating employees, Metro decided to "review" the matter further.

The mechanics' new "ideas" now cited by Ms. Farbstein are a combination of the mechanics' desire to save face and Metro management's attempt to assuage employees.

The irony of Ms. Farbstein's spin is that it gives the impression that Metro management is to blame, and not the mechanics, for never consulting their employees regarding these fresh, new "ideas."

Rather than hold anyone accountable and thereby risk alienating them, it's now clear that Metro will simply continue down the same old path. The result? More of the same.

Neil Schuldenfrei

Alexandria

That's my read also. It is incomprehensible that Metro's own mechanics have ideas to fix the problem that were not shared with anyone until after a blue ribbon panel of outsiders spent six months studying the problem. But that is what seems to have happened.

I hope these mechanics can fix the problems; so far, they have been unable to do so.

Cell Phone Not a Luxury

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am writing in response to the reader Ralph Blessing, who submitted a New Year's resolution wishing that Metro would ban ringing cell phones on its trains [Dr. Gridlock, Jan. 9].

A blanket ban on cell phones in Metro trains is unwarranted. Mr. Blessing has no way of knowing why each and every person in the train has a cell phone. Some people must be reachable for their jobs. Some people must be reachable because of different factors at home.

I myself have a very sick family member and therefore must be reachable. I know if Mr. Blessing were to approach me about my cell phone, my response to him would be unprintable.

Metrorail is a form of transportation, and travel can last 30 minutes to an hour, more if you must transfer. Why must someone be out of touch just because Mr. Blessing doesn't want to hear a cell phone on a train? It's not like it's happening in a movie or a play.

J.D. Walker

Fairfax County

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 drgridlock@washpost.com, 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.