Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My heart is again saddened by the loss of another teenager in an automobile accident. This is getting harder and harder to accept.

Parents need to realize that these kids are not grown up and should not be given freedom at the age of 16 to take control of an automobile (especially an SUV). Children are not equipped to handle these vehicles, which are hard for even an experienced, adult driver to handle.

Because the parents are not taking responsibility for these children, it is time for the states to take action and stop issuing driver's licenses to children under age 18. At least that would possibly give these children another two years on their life. Hello, senators and congressmen. Are you listening?

I might be considered an outdated parent, but I was a single and divorced parent when both my children took driver's education and other student-driver training courses. When they turned 16, I did not buy them a car, nor did I turn my car over to them to drive as they pleased. They are both over 30 years old, and still alive.

Parents need to wake up and see what is going on. What's with this hurry to get rid of the responsibility of taking your children places and instead of pushing them to their deaths before they become adults?

Rosalie Goosby

Dale City

No licenses until age 18. I support that. What you went through was certainly time-consuming, and maybe even inconvenient for you, but you didn't have to worry about your 16- and 17-year-old children driving into a tree.

Resist Rubbernecking

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Recently, I sat in stop-and-go traffic (maximum speed 10 mph) for approximately 20 minutes in the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes traveling north on Interstate 395. Why? A major accident in the regular lanes of I-395 north near the Washington Boulevard exit triggered yet another outrageous example of mass rubbernecking.

So, although there were no blockages in the HOV lanes, HOV traffic was backed up several miles because of my fellow commuters' inability to keep their eyes focused on the road ahead of them.

A rubbernecker is defined by my dictionary as an "overly inquisitive person" who "looks about, stares, or listens with exaggerated curiosity." As much as we hate to admit it, many of us fit that description.

We endanger ourselves and others by recklessly exceeding the speed limit en route to our destination, but are more than willing to slow down to catch a fleeting glimpse of the goings-on in another lane.

The first step toward combating rubbernecking is education. Local advertising campaigns and questions included in the driver's license exam will raise public awareness of the problem.

Second, solutions must be implemented. Those could include visual barriers between north and southbound lanes and signs posted at regular intervals along the freeway warning against the practice.

Finally, blatant rubberneckers should be charged with a moving violation and subjected to a fine.

Unless this issue is addressed, it will continue to tie up area roadways, confounding even the most ingenious transportation planners.

Ryan Velthuis


We recognize the problem, but I don't know whether there's a cure. If we've been waiting a long time to pass an accident scene, there is a feeling that we certainly have earned a look when it's our turn. Maybe screens deployed by police would help.

Stay to the Right

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

It is my observation that the slowest vehicle on the road is traveling in the far left lane. Nothing succeeds in getting such vehicles to move to the right.

Might these be the folks who are complaining about being tailgated? I suspect that, in many cases, the tailgating happens to a slower-moving driver who should learn to stay to the right except to pass.

G.H. Dimon Jr.


Accommodating Speeders?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I strongly disagree with your response to Nancy Berry [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 21], who said she uses two-lane Walney Road to get to work and is pestered by tailgaters.

You recommended that she use another route.

Speeding on narrow two-lane roads is a big problem in this area. Why should Ms. Berry choose a different route to accommodate those speeders?

I frequently use Compton and Bull Run Post Office roads, and, like Ms. Berry, I usually don't exceed 5 mph over the speed limit. When driving that route, I concentrate on the blind curves and hills in front of me and ignore tailgaters. I suggest that Ms. Berry take that approach.

James L. Moore


Why should Ms. Berry choose a different route to accommodate those speeders? Because she is tired of being tailgated. That's why she complained. I suggested she use a wider road, such as Route 28, the Fairfax County Parkway or the Dulles Toll Road.

Tailgaters are not going to stop tailgating, unfortunately.

Broadening Penalties

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The seriousness of drunken driving has finally gotten our attention, but other accidents and incidents do not. Heavy fines along with increased violation points might just do the trick. How do we get that done?

Archie D. Simpson


Write to your state delegate and state senator. Better, get a group of people to sign a petition.

Parenting New Drivers

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I remember some years ago you recommended some defensive driving schools, but do you have any recommendations for basic driving schools?

I have 15-year-old twin boys who can't fit driver's ed into their schedules, and I do not want to do it myself. Thanks.

Jim Burridge


Many parents don't want to, but they need to. How else will they feel that their children have received competent instruction and needed experience? How else will they be able to tell when a teen is ready to drive alone behind the wheel?

The measure should not be a few hours of training from a commercial enterprise that does not care about your children. Nor should the end of training be triggered by a birthday.

Do it, and chances are they'll have a better chance of survival.

Organizing Dr. Gridlock

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

What's up with the online version of your column ( I went to it today and found not one or two, but 10 columns listed for Oct. 21 with slightly different headings.

Unfortunately, although some of the columns had one or two segments that were unique, most of them were redundant. Also unfortunately, the only way to find out was to open each one up and scan it to find out if the same segments were there or if there was a "new" one embedded with the same questions and answers that I had read in several of the others.

Why can't the online column be combined to include all the letters from these multiple postings into one link? Maybe it's just The Post's way of getting you to keep clicking on their links and thus getting more of their annoying pop-ups (I wouldn't know, personally, since I have pop-ups blocked).

It's very annoying to have to click on multiple links and read through much of the same material to see if there is another piece of advice or information that wasn't in another posting.

Mike Chaney


I'm flattered that you would go to such lengths to ferret out every item each week. I want to help you.

Here's how Dr. Gridlock is organized. There is a Sunday column, on Page 2 of the Metro section, that is the same for everyone.

There are also different columns in 10 zoned Extra sections on Thursdays. These Extra columns have unique tops, but also share letters with other Extras to fill out each column. The common letters are the ones I think will have the greatest interest in most geographical zones.

What you want (I think) is to combine each item into one new link, so that every item will be included, and none will be repeated.

While we post each of the 10 Extra columns online each Thursday, we don't sort it the way you want.

I've asked our senior online producer, Rocci Fisch, to take a look at providing that service, and he said he will look into it.

P.S. I handle dozens more items on my online chat held from 1 to 2 p.m. every other Monday. Go to My next session is Monday.

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.