Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Who pays for the cleanup of road accidents?

A recent accident on Interstate 95 near Fredericksburg closed the road for many hours and required extensive cleanup and pavement repair because a large amount of pesticide or herbicide spilled onto the road.

This accident was caused by a truck rear-ending two other trucks.

James Ireland

Great Falls

The cost will be the responsibility of the trucking company that caused the accident, according to Ryan Hall, a Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman. The accident occurred at about 1 a.m. on July 7 when a tractor-trailer rammed into another truck. The driver of the tractor-trailer was killed, and his load of corrosive chemicals was propelled through the cab and onto the pavement.

The accident closed southbound I-95 for 28 hours and the northbound lanes for nine hours. A VDOT contract crew worked overnight in the rain to repair the road surface, Hall said.

Once the cleanup contractor submits a bill to VDOT, the department will send it along to the insurer of the tractor-trailer, Hall said.

Left-Turn Legalities

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I recall a couple years back there was a question about the legality of entering an intersection to make a left turn without an arrow.

I believe the answer was that it was legal, at least in Virginia, to proceed into the intersection and if an opening never came up, to turn left after the light changed to red.

It was legal for only the first car that was in the intersection, but no more than that.

If that was the case, is it still true? My son is going to behind-the-wheel driving classes in Virginia, and his instructor said it is not legal to do that.

Can you help me on this?

Randy Handt


You've got it right. It is legal for a left-turning vehicle to enter an intersection on a green light, and then make a left turn when oncoming traffic has stopped, even if the turn is against a red light.

However, following cars get no such grace. If they enter an intersection behind the left-turning vehicle, they risk being ticketed for running a red light or blocking an intersection.

Now, a more important question is whether this driving school will provide your teen behind-the-wheel driving experience on the Capital Beltway or other interstate highways, teaching how to enter and exit such roads, how to merge and how to respond to a tailgater. Do they teach use of turn signals, how to drive in city traffic, how to pass a slow-moving vehicle on a two-lane road and how to correct if your vehicle drifts onto the shoulder?

Do they provide experience in paying at a toll plaza, what to do if an animal suddenly jumps in front of your vehicle or how to react when a bee buzzes the driver's head? Do they teach how to correct skids, how to use automatic braking systems, how to change a tire, proper maintenance of a vehicle and how to drive in rain, in snow and at night?

I have yet to find a commercial driver's school that teaches those skills, so it is up to parents to ensure their teenager has lots of practice, until they feel comfortable that he or she is ready to drive solo.

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.