Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Regarding your answer to Kirstin Nickerson from Silver Spring [Dr. Gridlock, May 26], about the commercial vehicle drivers who are harassing her: Switching her walking route to another street is not the solution; reporting the drivers to their employers is.

Most of these vehicles are labeled with the company's name and phone number. All she would need to do is take notes and call the companies when she gets home.

No one -- man, woman or dog -- should have to change their route to avoid rude truck drivers.

Monique Kline

Silver Spring

I get complaints all the time about bad driver behavior. People want the problem fixed. They want me to fix it. They want the police to fix it. They want God to fix it. But, of course, it doesn't get fixed.

So when I get a letter with a problem that the complainant can so easily fix herself -- by walking her dogs on a different, quieter route -- I jump at that solution. That's the advice I'd give my adult daughters.

A number of people, including one of my editors, criticized my view, saying, as you have, that the woman should notify the trucking companies and not be driven off her route. To which I say: The truck drivers know her route. They could retaliate.

Like pulling right to let a tailgater go by, it's better to walk away from a confrontation.

No Parking on Sidewalks

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have been told that it is illegal to park across a sidewalk that crosses your driveway. However, in many Montgomery County neighborhoods, I have noticed vehicles blocking the sidewalk.

This practice seems dangerous, given that most pedestrians will walk into the street rather than into someone's yard to get around the car.

Also, it seems dangerous for people using wheelchairs, the elderly and children to have to go in the street to avoid someone who does not want to park on the street.

Why don't the police enforce the law and give those people tickets? And why do I have to shovel snow from my sidewalk within 24 hours when my neighbor can just block the sidewalk with his car all the time?

Elise Rumford

Takoma Park

Go to your nearest police station and report the locations of chronic abuse. Drivers have no right to block sidewalks.

Distracting DVD Screens

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

A distracted driver can cause death, so drivers who complain of being distracted by other vehicles' DVD screens have a point.

At the same time, reader Karen Stohr's defense of DVDs for the benefit of strapped-in children, and the drivers who attend to them, is also extremely valid [Dr. Gridlock, May 19].

I propose that any DVD screen in a vehicle be located behind the driver on the left side of the vehicle, not in the center. It should also be angled so that passengers inside a car can see it, but drivers in trailing vehicles would not be able to see enough of the screen to distract them.

I also propose that a partial shade or blind be installed at the left side of the DVD-operating vehicle to block the screen from a driver in a trailing vehicle.

For safety reasons, many jurisdictions forbid blacked-out rear windows, to give the driver an unobstructed view. With the advent of ample side-view mirrors, such laws should be modified to permit the use of a partial shade when a DVD screen is in use.

Harold Boroson

Silver Spring

As DVD screens in vehicles become more popular, new regulations limiting the distraction to other drivers will be needed.

Immediate Improvement

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Could you tell us about the construction blocking one lane in either direction on 16th Street NW, in the underpass near the Jefferson Hotel?

The roadbed apparently has been replaced, but there are construction signs and orange cones in the interior lanes in both directions. I drive that route daily and have seen no actual construction activity in some time.

The blocked lanes cause significant backups daily in both directions, especially when the light at the top of the underpass exit is red.

Any word on when we might see some relief from this?

Gary J. Krump

Silver Spring

How about tomorrow?

You are seeing the end of an 18-month project to reconstruct 16th Street NW and the tunnel under Scott Circle. Coincidentally, the completion is scheduled for tomorrow.

Not Slowing for Pedestrians

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

If someone doesn't do something soon about the pedestrian crossing at the back entrance of the Landon School on Bradley Boulevard, there are going to be some dead kids.

There's a pedestrian crossing sign on both sides of the marked crosswalk, but it doesn't do a bit of good. The cars come along at 60 mph (in a 40 mph zone) on Bradley and don't even slow down.

The least state officials could do is put in a button that pedestrians could push to give the cars a red light.

P.E. Pothier


There's no traffic signal there at all, according to the Maryland State Highway Administration. Stand-alone devices are available for pedestrian use. To get one, you and others similarly concerned should e-mail Charlie Watkins, District 3 Engineer, at, or write him at the Maryland State Highway Administration, 9300 Kenilworth Rd., Greenbelt, Md. 20770. MSHA spokesman Chuck Gischlar said there is a signalized intersection in the area, at Wilson Lane and Merrick Road.

Also, complain to your nearest county police station about excessive speeds in a school zone.

For Commute, Pick Prince George's

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My fiance and I are planning to move soon. I will be working in Annapolis, and his job is in Manassas.

Any suggestions on a location that would minimize commute times? In particular, what would traffic be like if we lived in Alexandria? Silver Spring?

Thanks so much for your help.

Caroline Miller


You might try Prince George's County. Each of you would be commuting against the rush-hour traffic flow. Your husband could connect with rail to Manassas.

I would not live in Alexandria, nice as it is, because housing is so expensive, nor in Silver Spring, because traffic in Montgomery County is so bad.

Keep Registration With You

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

A recent article in The Post about auto theft recommended not leaving one's vehicle registration card in the auto. I had understood that it was necessary to keep the registration with the auto to prove ownership. What do you advise?

Martha Mathis


Put it in your wallet or purse.

Slowing for Fares

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I see slow-moving cabs a lot, and they are almost always empty. I've assumed that they are either looking for potential fares or driving slowly enough to be able to stop for a fare.

Bill Moseley


Thanks for the suggestions.

When East Meets West

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Regarding the recent Chesapeake Bay Bridge update in your column, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MTA) can reverse one of the three westbound lanes to serve heavier eastbound traffic at any time. When that is done, vehicles using the far left, eastbound toll booths must use the westbound bridge. One of those toll booths is dedicated to E-ZPass.

Driving eastbound over the westbound bridge is nerve-racking and dangerous, as both eastbound and westbound cars are traveling on the same three-lane bridge.

The dedicated E-ZPass booths are a great idea, but E-ZPass drivers who do not know about an upcoming lane change and do not want to use the westbound bridge are penalized.

Also, this approach is a disincentive to use this E-ZPass booth. MTA must warn drivers approaching this booth that they will be forced to go over the westbound bridge. Why not have several dedicated booths for E-ZPass, as New York does at its bridge and tunnel approaches? That way the driver can use his/her discretion as to which bridge to use.

Joel Greenstein


The Chesapeake Bay Bridge has three booths for E-ZPass use: No. 1 and No. 2 on the left, and No. 9 on the right. That is out of a total of 11 lanes. A car passing through E-ZPass booth No. 9 would not normally be directed to use the westbound bridge in times of heavy eastbound traffic.

Currently, E-ZPass users do not stop at the bridge toll facility. They are proceeding in line at about 15 mph through the toll gates, according to Byron Johnston, MTA spokesman.

As payment by electronic transponder increases in popularity, more E-ZPass booths will be added, Johnston said. To learn more about E-ZPass, log on to

For updates on congestion at the Bay Bridge, call 877-BAYSPAN, or log on to

Lighting the Dark

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have noticed for several years how difficult it is to see the white dividing lines at major intersections when it is raining or dark outside. Oftentimes the headlights from other vehicles reflect off the surface of the wet roadways, masking the dividing lines to the point that a driver has to be extra vigilant to not meander into another driver's lane.

I think the solution is simple physically and worth the cost financially. Every intersection should have road reflectors installed on top of the dividing lines.

Michael S. Stanton


A common problem. People can't see the lines in the dark or when it's raining. There are devices that can be embedded into the pavement and reflect back light, but those are more expensive than painting the lines.

Western states use raised disks that provide plenty of visibility. Using those here wouldn't work because snowplows would scrape them off, I'm told.

Whoever solves this problem will reign forever.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.