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/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


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.

Scooter Laws

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I'm fed up with the rising costs of Metro, plus the inconvenience of the hours and off-peak wait times for catching a train.

I commute daily from Takoma Park to Georgetown and am very interested in obtaining a gasoline-powered motor scooter, like a Vespa. These are motor conveyances between a moped and a motorcycle.

Parking would be a lot easier, and the cost of gasoline these days makes driving a car too expensive for short trips. These motor scooters can get 90 miles per gallon.

What are the laws for licensing, tags/registration and such in Maryland?

Paul A. Foley

Takoma Park

Pretty simple. You don't need to register one or get a license plate, said Jeff Tosi, a spokesman for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. You do need to have a Maryland driver's license or a moped driver's license.

Rising gasoline prices will encourage more of us to look to alternative means of travel. Maybe $5-a-gallon gas is the solution to our gridlock.

Just Back In

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The best way to safely get out of any parking space is to have backed into it initially so you can drive forward to exit.

Andrew Chen


Yes, or pull through an empty back-to-back space to exit front first or park at the edge of the lot, where there are fewer vehicles.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

When I was a college intern, the company I worked for had only back-in parking lots. You were not allowed to park your car by driving straight in; you had to put the car in reverse to park. The result: When pulling out of a parking space, you are always looking through your front windshield and able to see any potential hazards.

I have continued the practice of back-in parking for 15 years and have not had any problems leaving a parking space, even when flanked by two large SUVs.

An alternative to back-in parking is to pull through two adjacent parking spaces so you are parked facing out.

Marybeth Henry


I hear you and appreciate your thoughts to take control of a dangerous situation. Some folks, however, find backing in takes more skill and effort and tests the patience of horn-honking others in the aisle.

I prefer finding empty tandem spaces and pulling through, or parking on the fringe, where there are more empty spaces.

Hard on SUVs

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I do not understand why people are so hard on SUVs, calling them behemoths or oversize trucks. I do not own a SUV, but for those who do, it is a matter of freedom of choice to own the type of vehicle they desire.

As far as parking in a parking lot, it is on a first-come, first-park basis, and park where you choose to park.

I do not like parking between SUVs and trucks or beside cars in which people swing the doors all the way out to exit or enter, thus slamming the car doors into other people's cars. I try to park in an area that is not congested, even if it means parking farther out.

Instead of suggesting that SUV/truck drivers park "out there," why don't the complainers park "out there," or back into a parking space, or go to a space that has both spaces open and pull into the forward space so that they can pull forward when leaving?

That would make it much easier to leave a parking space, because you can see what is coming or going. It is your choice to park wherever you want to park, and for the owners of SUVs and trucks, it's their choice, too.

Rosalie Goosby

Dale City

Dangerous Move

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


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.

Calming Solution?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Road rage is one of the area's most dangerous problems. I think drivers are listening to the radio and hearing the latest news, weather, stock market and traffic conditions, generally all bad situations. Is it any wonder that drivers are in a rage?

Let's lobby for some soft, soothing commuter music. Who can be angry listening to Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett? Everyone will relax, smile at the driver in the next car and enjoy the ride.

Helen Heneghan


If only it were so simple. Maybe that's one way to enjoy our commutes. Others say audiobooks can be a pleasant diversion.

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, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers.