Tom Donohoe of Washington didn't take kindly to a reader's suggestion that it would be much appreciated if vehicles would turn off their headlights at stoplights, sparing the driver in front from headlight glare.

In the March 16 Dr. Gridlock column, Donohoe wrote:

"Nice going. By publishing this idiotic idea, you will probably contribute to several serious rear-end accidents. Turning off one's headlights at a traffic light while stopped also turns off the taillights of the vehicle, making it difficult or impossible for approaching cars to see your car."

I asked readers for comment. Hundreds responded, mostly as follows:

* Most vehicles have a headlight setting for on, off and an in-between setting for parking lights. The brake lights remain on during the parking lights setting, although the main front headlights are off.

* Most drivers keep their foot on the brake while stopped, causing brake-light illumination even if the headlights are off (as in daytime driving).

* Extinguishing headlights at a stop would be much appreciated by many who wrote in.

The Japanese do this routinely. Shouldn't we?

Down With Escalators

Dear Dr. Gridlock:


We could use the exercise, and Metro could use the money.

Rick Babiarz

Oak Hill, Fairfax County

I can understand the frustration with the oft-broken escalators. But making them all into stairs would be a burden for some, even dangerous, as the stair heights vary from fixed stairs.

My reading on this problem is that Metro needs to make sure its union escalator mechanics are adequately trained and are competent.

Annoying, Not Calming

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

While cycling the other day, I noticed traffic-calming signs in Lanham had been updated, replacing Wayne Curry's name (our prior county executive) with Jack Johnson's.

Budgeting strategies for personal promotion instead of community concern and safety is why we have a deficit.

Fred Gasper


For Dr. Gridlock, it's not so much the cost of these revolving signs as the appropriateness. For instance, an interstate highway welcoming sign that includes the name of the governor seems appropriate, but promotions in smaller jurisdictions, including Prince George's County, do not seem appropriate. Where to draw the line?

There are more than two dozen municipalities within Prince George's County. Should their signs promote their leaders? Should leaders of planning commissions be named? Water and sewer authorities? School boards?

The Fairfax County Parkway is named for John F. "Jack" Herrity, a veteran supervisor who was booted out of office by a substantial vote. Now, he's running for board chairman again and has the benefit of free "campaign" signs along the parkway, and the apparent endorsement of the state and county governments. Appropriate? No.

Sam Eig was a noted philanthropist, but should he have a Montgomery County highway named for him (Interstate 370)? I don't think so.

Politicians love to promote themselves and their friends on public works projects with taxpayer funds. You'll see minor bridges and interchanges named for bozos up and down I-95.

My preference would be to limit these promotional signs to governors on welcoming signs. Other transportation projects that must be named would be named for a deceased U.S. president.

What do you think?

Cell-Phone Choice

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

If people want to use their cell phones on Metro, let's take the British approach:

All new rolling stock is equipped with windows which block the wireless signals.

Only one car per train is not so equipped. That way users and nonusers get a choice.

John Featherstone


How civilized.

You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 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.