Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As I waited in the right lane at a stoplight, a car came flying up beside me in the left lane and attempted to make a right turn on red in front of me. It happened as the light turned green and I was moving through the intersection.

Is it legal to make a right turn on red from the left lane?

Cliff Cummins

Hyattsville

No, not unless the lane is also designated as a right-turn lane. Otherwise, it's an illegal turn. I'm hearing more about this in Montgomery County. It's dangerous, reckless behavior.

Menacing Dump Trucks

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

What is going on with all the dump trucks in the area, mostly on Brandywine Road near Aquasco Road and Cedarville Road, and in the areas on Route 5 near the Charles County/Prince George's county line?

These trucks are racing up and down the roads with no regard to speed limits or safety. I work on Brandywine Road, and I see these trucks day in and day out, constantly speeding and driving with their loads uncovered. I have a windshield crack to prove it. One company's drivers hardly ever cover their loads.

In the past year, I know of three dump trucks overturning on Brandywine Road, and one dump truck nearly knocking down an electric pole at Cedarville Road and Brandywine Road. The tire marks are deep in the ground even today, telling of the near miss.

I know of a dump truck rear-ending a car heading north on Route 301, causing that car to enter the southbound lane, hit other cars and catch fire, killing the driver and injuring others.

When is this going to stop? How may others will have to die before a change will be made?

I've contacted the local police department and Maryland State Police about this matter. They send officers out, but once one truck driver sees the officer, they all slow down and/or cover their loads. Once the officer leaves, it's right back to business as usual.

Something has to be done to slow these trucks down and to ensure their loads are covered, and that mud and gravel are removed from the wheels before they enter the roadways.

I have made complaints to dump truck companies, only to hear, "Sure, we will take care of it," but nothing is ever done.

Donald Poole

Waldorf

Because most of the roads you list are in the southern edge of Prince George's County, here is what I would do. Gather some of your neighbors/co-workers who feel the same way and make an appointment to see the commander of the District 5 Prince George's County police substation, which covers this area. The substation is at 6707 Groveton Dr. in Clinton.

Perhaps police can set up the kind of comprehensive crackdown you are seeking. Meanwhile, if you find yourself behind a speeding or uncovered dump truck and you have a cell phone, county police spokesman Cpl. Robert Clark suggests that you call the District 5 substation at 301-856-3101 to report the incident. Police may be able to dispatch a squad car.

Good luck and keep me posted.

A May, Not a Must

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Something else that might need posting at right-on-red intersections is the word may, which would hopefully take some emphasis off the assumed word must. Right on red should not be a requirement, but an option.

If a patient, mature, conscientious driver thinks some right-on-red situations are too risky, it should be his or her prerogative to opt out and wait for a green light. It would be helpful if a sign notified impatient drivers that one may turn right.

Gary Munday

West Laurel

You're right. Right on red is an option. Yours is a good suggestion.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

During the energy shortages of the 1970s, drivers were given the opportunity by law to turn right on red unless otherwise prohibited. But I believe that before turning on red, one is to stop to see if the turn can be made safely. Many drivers, particularly in the District and Maryland, make the turn at a red light but fail to stop.

I was rear-ended once by a woman while I was stopped at a red light and about to make a right turn. She said, "I thought you were going to turn."

Ernest W. Harris

Washington

Although some intersections permit a right turn on red, that is only after stopping. Some of the me-first motorists seem not to care. That can be dangerous.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

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