Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have been amazed to learn that nearly everybody I know brakes and accelerates with one foot, the right foot. I have driven for 63 years without an accident, and I believe it is safer to drive with the left foot touching (but not depressing) the brake pedal. This allows one to brake instantly, in a fraction of the time it takes to shift the right foot from the accelerator to the brake.

In emergency braking, every split second counts. Also, in an emergency, there is a far greater danger of getting confused and pushing on the accelerator instead of the brake. This has probably caused countless accidents. Such confusion is impossible when the left foot is ready to brake in an instant reflex.

William L. Stearman

North Bethesda

I'm glad your method has worked for you for 63 years, Mr. Stearman. I brake with the right foot exclusively, as do most people I know. If you move your right foot from accelerator to brake, there is no possibility of pressing both, which might happen with the two-footed method.

Norm Grimm, a safety expert for the AAA, says he uses both methods and doesn't see a safety problem with either. Which method do you folks use?

A Ride Home in a Pinch

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am writing in response to Mary K. Dillon's note about how she drives to work instead of taking Metro so she can ensure she can get home to her children at a moment's notice (Dr. Gridlock, May 13).

You explained that the regional Council of Governments, through (or 1-800-745-RIDE), has a free Guaranteed Ride Home (GRH) program for commuters who take public transit to work and need to get home in an emergency (up to four times a year).

It works! I ride the VRE commuter rail, and I was hit with a classic migraine headache at about 10 a.m. in my workplace, and I knew that I faced several painful hours ahead. The midday VRE didn't leave until 1 p.m. I called GRH, and within five minutes, a taxi was waiting outside my building to speed me home. I was not asked for any payment. I tipped the driver, of course, and was home within an hour.

I would recommend public transportation and GRH to anyone.

Maria Rost Rublee


Beltway Project Update

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

What is the Maryland State Highway Administration doing on the Beltway inner loop between Connecticut and Georgia avenues? When will it end? Serenity now!!!

Jane Takushi


Maryland is resurfacing the Beltway between Georgia Avenue and the west spur of the Interstate 270 split. Crews work mostly at night and should be done in the fall. Work on the Beltway bridge over Old Georgetown Road should be done June 30.

Fleeing the E-ZPass Fee

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I just received a letter from E-ZPass New York stating that they are charging a $1 per month fee to keep E-ZPass. I switched my pass from New Jersey to avoid paying the $1 fee there. Do you know of any other state that will not charge the $1 fee, or am I stuck paying it? I only use the pass three times a year.

Susan Martin


Try Maryland at

Cicada Alert

A motorist in Montgomery County panicked when a cicada flew into her vehicle. She ran off the road and knocked over a fire hydrant, interrupting water service to a neighborhood. What a mess.

While the noisy critters are flying about, you might want to drive with the windows up. And remember, if one flies into the car, it won't bite or sting. Focus on driving until it's safe to pull over and let the intruder out.

Metro's Cash-Free Parking Plan

I see from my mail that a number of you are worried about Metro's plan to do away with cashiers at its parking facilities next month and start accepting payment only by SmarTrip card. Many people are confused about the decision not to accept cash.

Dr. Gridlock will review your concerns in next Sunday's column.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails at or faxes at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.