The columns of Aug. 15 and 19 dealt with why people in our area don't use turn signals. The predominant reason readers gave was that signals simply warn other motorists to close the gaps in traffic so the would-be lane changer can't move over.

A number of readers have more to say on that and also on what to do about the opposite problem: how to signal to motorists that their blinkers seem to be stuck in the "on" position. Here we go:

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have found that an inordinate number of drivers in this area have cars that are equipped with -- or that they think are equipped with -- a new bit of technology that I call "the Moses blinker."

This type of blinker makes the driver feel that, simply by using it, traffic in the lane he/she wishes to enter will immediately part like the Red Sea.

Such drivers do not feel the need to wait to be let in but just push their way in.

The Moses blinker is best used when attempting to enter a bumper-to-bumper line of traffic that the driver has chosen to ignore until the moment when he has to (or feels he has to) enter the lane he wanted to be in all along. Most likely, he didn't want to wait like the rest of the people already in the lane.

Oh, and by the way, if you do not allow this person to enter your lane, you are the discourteous driver -- or at least that's what the Moses driver feels.

Scott Arnold


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I didn't realize my directional signal was on until a car in the lane next to me drove by and got my attention. Then I noticed his thumb and first finger tapping each other back and forth. That was a good clue to me that my signal light was still activated.

I've used that method many times to notify drivers their lights were still blinking. It seems to work.

Melina Kaehn


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

If I see a driver on a dual highway with his turn signal on, I find success with this method: I pass, making a point of not cutting in closely but nonetheless being the next car in front. Then, assuming it's not the Beltway at rush hour, etc., I use my turn signal in both directions rapidly and alternately for several seconds.

Drivers have turned off their turn signals within a few seconds most of the time.

With no other exits, cross-streets or distractions, I'm also not disrupting others.

This is a limited-use option, but for the situation I described, it seems effective.

J. Reid Williamson


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I once read of a suggested alert: After passing a driver whose turn signal seems to have been inadvertently left on, hold up one hand and alternate making a fist and spreading your fingers out at a rate of about once per second to mimic a flashing light.

I've tried this occasionally over the years and observed that the targeted driver either turns off his signal or remains oblivious. No one has ever reacted negatively (insofar as I could tell).

Lawrence D. Powers


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I've had success with the following method: I get in front of the offending driver (if I'm able to) and put on my turn signal. Unless the driver is in a total daze (in which case he shouldn't be on the road), he will start wondering why I am signaling. Then he may get the message that his signal is on.

Some vehicles have very quiet "tickers," so their drivers can easily forget.

Lee J. Garvin


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I get in front of the person and turn my signal on. After a short period of watching my signal flashing, the driver behind me usually realizes his is on and turns it off.

E.Y. Deshields

Great Falls

A Pass for Bridges, Roads

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I travel from Gaithersburg to the Eastern Shore several times a year. Whom do I contact to get a smart tag -- or whatever it is called -- to use for crossing the Bay Bridge?

Claire Nichter


Maryland used to have a discount pass for commuters called the M-Tag, but that has been folded into the E-ZPass program. E-ZPass is good at toll facilities in Maryland and six other states: New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and West Virginia. Virginia and Maine will be onboard by the end of the year. New Hampshire is also expected to join this compact.

The E-ZPass program uses a transponder on your vehicle to electronically deduct tolls from your account and get you through toll facilities faster than motorists paying cash.

To get an E-ZPass, log on to

Maryland also offers prepaid discounts for frequent users of its toll facilities, but I believe you have to cross the Bay Bridge several times a week to make it worthwhile. To learn more about Bay Bridge discounts, log on to

Praise for Traffic Cop

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I would like to pass along my appreciation for the fine job being done by the officer posted during evening rush hours at M Street and Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown.

The policeman is keeping traffic moving smoothly through this gridlock-prone area, especially by turning away motorists who want to make an illegal left turn from M Street onto Wisconsin.

There's a no-left-turn sign posted, but it is frequently ignored, which causes traffic to grind to a halt.

If you can tell me how to send these comments to his precinct, please let me know.

Cathy Hunter


Write to Robert Contee, 2nd District police commander, at 3320 Idaho Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 20016.

Also, send a copy to Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, 300 Indiana Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.

It's awfully nice of you to praise police for helping traffic through key intersections during rush hours.

I'd like to hear of any other intersections where that is happening, as well as intersections where readers would like to see an officer stationed.

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 at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers.