Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Your answer to Mr. [Jim] Goldwater on tooting his horn at a cop was dead wrong (Dr. Gridlock, June 13). Ordinarily, only a crazy person would blow his horn at a cop. But Mr. Goldwater doesn't seem to me to be crazy; it seems to me that the actions he took -- blowing his horn and hitting his brakes when he was cut off by a cop -- were appropriate.
Unless you are saying that it is okay for cops to pull over citizens whose only offense was to draw attention to the cops' reckless driving.
Nowhere in Mr. Goldwater's description did he say that the cop had either his siren or lights on. Had he been responding to an emergency, hopefully the cop would have continued driving instead of ticketing a motorist who had the nerve to honk at him.
I would not have used my horn. I would have shaken my head and thought to myself, great example there, officer, and continued on my way.
Mr. Goldwater reacted differently, but that doesn't put him in the wrong. He's being punished for reacting to a situation with good defensive driving techniques.
I hope Mr. Goldwater is successful in his appeal of the ticket, a ticket given out of spite. I also hope he contacted the officer's supervisor to report this clear abuse of power.
We look to the police for protection. This cop, in this instance, failed.
And you, sir, telling Mr. Goldwater that he should have "rolled over and agreed with him," have failed your readers.
A lot of readers disagreed with me on this one. They called my opinion "appalling," "outrageous" and "drivel." I think the problem here is that readers fastened onto just one side of the story, Mr. Goldwater's. We don't have the officer's views. Without them, how can we say, as Mr. Kinnaly does above, that the officer issued a ticket "out of spite" and that this was a "clear abuse of power"?
Because we had only one side of the story, I didn't pass judgment on who was in the right in my June 13 column but merely said that a stopped motorist who was respectful and submissive stands a better chance of not getting a ticket than one who challenges the officer, as Mr. Goldwater did.
We've been through a lot over the years, and I hope you'll stick with me, even though we may disagree from time to time.
One thing I could have done was encourage any motorist who feels he has been mistreated to file a complaint with police. The reader below tells how to do that:
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Perhaps Mr. Goldwater should have noted the police officer's name, badge number and vehicle identification number and been encouraged to report the incident either to the Metropolitan Police Department or to the D.C. Office of Citizen Complaint Review.
The Web site, http://mpdc.dc.gov/serv/citizencomplaints/file_complaint.shtm, indicates that there are many convenient ways for individuals to file complaints, including in-person, over the telephone, or via mail, e-mail or fax.
The Web site provides additional items an individual needs to remember when filing a complaint.
David A. Vignolo
Thanks for that info. If the officer in question here was as wrong as some of you concluded he was, then filing a complaint could be included in a pattern of complaints that, in turn, might alert his superiors that they have a problem.
Route 450 Widening
There has been recent interest in what the Maryland State Highway Administration is doing on Route 450 (Annapolis Road) in the Bowie area of Prince George's County.
The state is widening the road to four lanes, divided, with additional turn lanes at intersections between Route 193 and Stonybrook Drive, near Bowie High School.
As part of this project, utility lines are being upgraded, leading to temporary lane closures, like the recent water main work on southbound Route 197 between Route 450 and Gradys Walk.
The project should be completed in the summer of 2005.
Thought for the Day
Let another driver merge. Maybe that will be contagious.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or faxes at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.