Dear Dr. Gridlock:

What is the safest way to handle a tailgater while on an interstate highway?

Bill Beardslee


Put on your right turn signal and, as quickly as it's safe to do so, move to the right.

There are other techniques, such as the lead driver suddenly braking, that put both drivers at risk and convert no one. Do you folks have other solutions?

Pay or Pass?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I understand that some states do not charge for the E-ZPass and others charge a monthly fee. A friend of mine is from Virginia and travels to Ocean City during summer weekends. To cross the Bay Bridge, she was considering an E-ZPass.

Do you recommend her getting the pass from Maryland, or is another state's pass a better offer?

Elizabeth Rodenzo


A number of states, including New Jersey and New York, charge a $1-a-month administrative fee to carry an E-ZPass account. Maryland does not charge this fee. I recommend signing up with Maryland by logging on to

It takes $25 to open an account. Tolls are deducted from that account, via a transponder, in special lanes that are designed to get you through toll gates faster. The account is automatically replenished through a credit card.

You don't need to be a Maryland resident to sign up for a Maryland E-ZPass.

States that honor the E-ZPass at their toll facilities include Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia. Maine and Virginia are scheduled to join by year's end.

More Manners, Please

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I want to address a concern that Metro passengers encounter every day: rudeness. As adults, we teach children how to say "excuse me," "thank you" and "please."

These phrases are becoming extinct. I can't count the times I was pushed onto a Metro train, smacked with backpacks and other bags and squeezed by other passengers cramming into a seat. They do not pardon themselves.

What is sad is that "grown folks" are committing these offenses every day in front of our future generation.

Melinda S. Batson


And these civil comments cost nothing.

Bypass the Clog

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My bypass around Interstate 95 south goes like this:

Take Interstate 66 west to the Route 234 bypass in Prince William County. Head east on the bypass and turn south on Route 28. Follow Route 28 south to the stoplight at Route 17 in Fauquier County, and turn left.

Follow Route 17 to the I-95 interchange just north of Fredericksburg.

This route bypasses most of the I-95 congestion between the Beltway and Fredericksburg. And for folks en route to the Virginia Beach area, staying on Route 17 will avoid a lot of traffic on both I-95 and Interstate 64. Route 17 connects with I-64 just south of Yorktown.

Brian D. Wall


Anything to avoid the bumper-to- bumper I-95 traffic between our Beltway and Fredericksburg.

Food Fury

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

It infuriates me when I see Metro passengers eating and drinking aboard trains. Nothing is more disgusting than watching half-full milkshake cups rolling on the floor, or approaching what appears to be an open seat only to find it covered with a smashed cheeseburger.

While Metro is vigilant about eating and drinking in the busy downtown stations, I see little enforcement in the stations at the end of the line. I used the Franconia- Springfield Station for two years and frequently saw afternoon riders board Metro trains consuming all manner of food and drink, making no attempt whatsoever to hide their actions.

Meanwhile, the trains were littered with newspapers and other debris because Metro has removed the garbage cans out of fear that someone will put a bomb in them.

It is curious to note that thousands of people carry luggage, boxes, trunks and packages of all sizes and shapes and rarely merit a second look, or closer inspection, by Metro personnel.

Bill Ballantyne


Is Metrorail the clean system it once was?

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.