Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have read your column hoping for a good solution for tailgaters. I live in Southern Maryland, and there are many two-lane roads in our area. Sometimes changing lanes is not an option for drivers down here.

My solution, which I have not seen addressed, is to turn on my emergency flashers when someone is driving way too close. The tailgater immediately slows down for about a mile but then will be right back on my bumper! I just turn on my flashers once more.

Short of increasing my speed to a dangerous level, I am not sure what to do to avoid the tailgater when there is no lane to change to. The roads are narrow and twisty, but drivers want to drive on them at more than the posted limit.

What do you think of turning on flashers to slow down a tailgater; and how should one get out of the way when there is no other lane?

Thanks for your help.

Peggy Holt


Many rural and suburban roads are two lanes wide, with no shoulders. That makes for challenging driving. Safety experts tell me it is unwise to use flashing lights while moving because it is not clear to other drivers what you are going to do.

You might try alternative, wider roads, if you can find them, or turning at the next cross street if you can't. It is unnerving to have a driver tailgating you; I understand.

Finding 'Yellow Ribbons'

Here are more suggestions from readers about where one can buy those "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon magnets that we see on a number of vehicles these days.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In reply to your column as to where to get the yellow ribbon "Support Our Troops" magnets: They can be obtained through Stacey Crowe at the Greater Waldorf Jaycees. Call her at 301-645-4546, 301-274-4699, 301-843-2233 or 301-843-3301.

She has big magnets as well as little ones, which can be put on the back bumper.

The red, white and blue ones, along with the yellow ribbons, are being sold at Pam's Hallmark store in the St. Charles Towne Center in Waldorf for $4.95.

Doris Krondon

Brandywine, Charles County

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I was able to obtain the yellow ribbons at They have a nice selection and the ribbons are quite inexpensive.

Thanks for a great column.

Diane Roys

Lexington Park

This Is an Emergency

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The traffic signal light at the intersection of Canal Road and Foxhall Road 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 direction of 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 told the man that, and he was undeterred. He continued to repeat to me, "Ma'am, I fix your car in one day!"

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.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in Extra and Sunday 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.