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

Arlington

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.

License at 18, Not 16

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My heart is again saddened by the loss of another teenager to 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 the age of 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I might be considered an outdated parent, but I was a single and divorced parent when both my children took driver's education and other student-driver training courses.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 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.

Supporting Soldiers

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have been following the letters sent to your column regarding the yellow-ribbon magnets placed on cars in support of our troops.

I would like to suggest that those readers interested in supporting our troops go to the Web site www.anysoldier.com. It is run by a La Plata resident who is a former member of the armed services. He has a son who is on active military duty. He has made it extremely easy for us to donate what the troops really want.

This volunteer effort has extensive lists of items recommended for and requested by servicemen and women. Examples are items as simple as lip balm, stationery, used Game Boy games and snack foods. Items can be mailed directly to the troops, using APO addresses.

One visit to the Web site will make readers aware of how much the support of those back here in the States means to the troops.

Jane Auker

Reston

Symbols of Patriotism

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I would like to respond to those who feel that ribbon magnets on cars are an empty gesture, or an attempt to shove patriotism down their throats.

I often display such magnets on my car. I also wear an American flag pin every day.

That doesn't mean that I'm more patriotic than the next person. It also doesn't mean that I think people who don't do such things are not patriotic.

I resent the implication that displaying patriotic symbols means that I'm acting "more patriotic-than-thou," or making some sort of fashion statement.

I also resent the implication that displaying such patriotic symbols means I must be so simple-minded that I can't possibly be doing anything else to support our troops.

Patriotism may not be defined by symbols, but symbols provide a means to present a very powerful message. I know that many of our troops appreciate these displays of patriotism.

I do it for our men and women in uniform.

Mary Brick

Centreville

Organizing Dr. Gridlock

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

What's up with the online version of your column (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/metro/columns/drgridlock)? 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

California, Md.

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 then 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. Log on to www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline. My next session is on 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 drgridlock@washpost.com, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county, and day and evening telephone numbers.