In the Oct. 21 Dr. Gridlock column, completion dates for the Route 28-Route 606 (Old Ox Road) interchange loops were incorrect. Five of the eight new loops opened Oct. 9, and the other three are scheduled to open early next year. (Published 10/24/04)

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The traffic signal at the intersection of Canal and Foxhall roads is turned in the wrong direction.

That causes confusion in case one is not paying attention to its mate on the other side of Canal Road.

Could you please ask the signal shop, or whoever takes care of the traffic signals in the District, to turn the signal so that it faces the traffic it is serving?

Rashid A. Makhdoom

North Potomac

According to the District Department of Transportation, that is an emergency. Reports should be filed by calling the general complaint number, 202-727-1000. Operators are trained to immediately forward such complaints to the appropriate field crews, according to Bill Rice, spokesman for DDOT.

Parking Lot Mechanics

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

You recently asked if any readers had experienced roadside scams. Last month I was rear-ended, and my car sustained damage in the rear and front.

The firemen who came to the accident scene told me they thought my car was drivable for a short distance. So I drove to the supermarket (in College Park) the day before my car was to go into the body shop.

As I was leaving the parking lot, two men in an approaching car waved their arms at me. I stopped and one of them said, "Ma'am, I fix your car in one day!" as he offered me a flier.

I burst out laughing because my insurance company had said it would take at least three weeks for the work to be done, and the body shop I had chosen had said it would take at least four weeks.

I hope those fellows don't find any takers for their offer.

Kay Engman

Prince George's County

You were wise to be wary of strangers offering to "fix" your vehicle in a parking lot.

Montgomery Meltdown

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

One day last summer I was driving on Briggs Chaney Road approaching a stoplight that was green. When I was about 50 yards from the light, a car that had been sitting at the cross street with the red light proceeded into the intersection, making a left turn in front of me.

Fortunately, I was not going fast and was able to avoid hitting the car. But imagine my surprise and that of the drivers behind me. I have seen the same thing happen two other times since then: cars turning against the light into traffic.

When a few friends and I were talking about it, one said: "What's the problem with that? I do it all the time." His rationale is that if there is no traffic approaching within a "safe" distance, he figures it is all right to go, even though he has the red light.

I was taught, and still believe, it is the law that when you have the red light, you stop and stay there until the light turns green.

Peter Stein


You are correct. Motorists do not have the option of running a red light when it is "safe" to do so. For one thing, the red-light runner might not have a clear view of traffic crossing on the green light.

That bad habit seems to go hand in hand with motorists turning right from the left lane, crossing in front of through traffic, that I hear about from Montgomery residents.

Has traffic law broken down in Montgomery County?

Passing Knowledge

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I can attest to the fact that, in Italy at least, the main reason there is no left-lane cruising on the Autostrada is that that is nearly the only offense for which one will absolutely receive a traffic citation.

The left lane is designated for passing only; once you've passed, you are required to move immediately back to the right.

That works alongside the famous "no speed limit" laws in Italy. Speedier drivers always have an opportunity to pass slower traffic.

Rico Petruccelli


For that to work here, a left-lane cruiser would absolutely have to fear a ticket. What are the chances of that when so many traffic violations are unpunished?

Everywhere a Tailgater

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In your Oct. 7 column, you state that the best way to deal with tailgaters is to "put on my right turn signal and change lanes as soon as possible." Your statement implies that tailgaters tailgate only in the left lane. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.

In the D.C. area, tailgaters will tailgate in every lane, including in the far right lane. There are probably many reasons for their tailgating (me-first-ism, aggressiveness, traffic frustration or my girlfriend's logic that "it's safe to tailgate because my car has anti-lock brakes").

Therefore, my advice to drivers who are being tailgated is to try to put some sort of distance between you and the tailgater by any of the following methods:

1) Switching lanes and allowing the tailgater to pass you.

2) Switching lanes and slowing down so the tailgater is no longer directly behind you.

3) Temporarily speeding up (if there is no vehicle in front of you) to create space between you and the tailgater, thereby signaling that you don't like being tailgated.

4) In the case of a single-lane road, or when you are boxed in by traffic on all sides on a multilane road, slowing down slightly so that you create additional space between you and the vehicle in front of you. That gives you extra space to slow down and/or stop if an emergency situation occurs in front of you, while effectively doing the same for the tailgater, which decreases the chance of their hitting you from behind.

I've found those methods effective because they help put me out of harm's way without requiring that the tailgaters change their behavior, which I can't control.

Mark Tune


If one is continually tailgated in the right lane of a road, I suggest trying an alternative road.

AAA Driver Training

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

You have in the past mentioned several driving schools in the Washington area.

Can you repeat any recommendations you or your readers made? This is for someone already driving who needs further instruction.

My wife has driven in the United Kingdom and is now faced with getting a Maryland license.

Rolf Sinclair

Chevy Chase

Check out the AAA basic and advanced driver training courses. AAA has a branch in Rockville. The number to call for all AAA driver training locations is 877-457-0711.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursdays in Extra and Sundays in the Metro section. 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 telephone numbers.