Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Whatever happened to turn signals? I know cars are still being equipped with them, but no one seems to use them anymore. Can you remind your readers that failing to use a turn signal in certain situations may cause an accident or traffic jam?

For example, drivers stopped at red lights who turn on their left-turn signal only after the light has turned green jam up the through traffic behind them. And how many times has someone been driving along on the Capital Beltway when a mammoth truck just cuts them off with no warning?

How can we expect everyday commuters to use turn signals when some police, firetrucks, ambulances and 18-wheeler trucks do not?

Driving should be like any other task in life. Treat others on the road as you wish to be treated.

Arleta Davis


You make good points. I suspect we don't use turn signals because we're just lazy. What do you folks think?

Kudos to Train Operator

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Yesterday, I was commuting home on the Orange Line from Foggy Bottom to Vienna about 3:40 p.m. During the trip, the train's operator, Robert Washington, gave us the standard warning over the intercom about reporting unusual activity or unattended items.

Washington then spoke through the next two stops or so about how even though he was the train operator, for all of us to get where we were going, we would need to work together. (This is the condensed version.)

His comments were delivered in a light-hearted and pleasant tone, and many of the passengers were laughing appropriately, but when he was finished, I was left with a very positive feeling that this man took his job very seriously and had great pride in the Metro system.

Since we all have had negative interactions with Metro personnel at times, I wanted to pass on this extremely positive experience. I have also made a similar report directly to Metro.

I believe that I have ridden the Orange Line at other times when Robert Washington was the operator, and he always had a funny comment or a helpful piece of information.

Linda Disselkamp


Thanks for sharing. Hope this employee gets a commendation.

Sticker Not Too Sticky

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I had to remove my District inspection windshield sticker just a few days after reading in your column about how difficult it could be, and approached the task with dread. I thought I'd see how far I could get with one of those little razor scraping devices.

I started at a corner, and as soon as I had about 1/8-inch free, I decided to see how far I could peel off the rest of the sticker. To my surprise, it peeled easily. I scraped some more of the edge free, and was able to peel the whole thing off in one piece. The whole process took about two minutes.

I examined it and saw that only the edges were sticky. Maybe that is why my method happened to work.

Anyway, please pass this on to your readers.

Elizabeth Rose


Thank you.

Close Call on Metro

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I read the letter in your column about the close call with a Metro train door shutting on a baby stroller [Dr. Gridlock, May 29]. I experienced a similar situation when returning home from the White House Easter Egg Roll this year with my 7-year-old son, his friend and my mother. We were getting off the train at Crystal City along with many other people, including several children, one of whom was in a stroller.

Everyone was lined up at the door to get out, with the stroller going first, so there was no dillydallying. The doors opened, the stroller went first, the chimes rang and the door slammed on me and my son's friend, whose hand I was holding.

A man also waiting to exit the train helped me force the door open and helped my mother, son and others out. Meanwhile, several people were still waiting to board! My shoulder was sore for several hours from the impact of the door, and the children and my mother were frightened.

Kathy VanOrden


Would it make sense, with a large party, to line up at different doors? These Metro iron-jawed doors seem to be a problem. Maybe the new citizen advisory board can help.

Giving Car Theft the Boot

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

One of your readers suggested "booting" our own cars to prevent them from being stolen [Dr. Gridlock, July 28].

Although I have never seen them for sale in this country, wheel clamps are commonly available and used on cars in Great Britain (although they are not called a "boot," since that means trunk in British English).

An example of a Web retailer offering them for sale to the U.K. market is

Jol A. Silversmith


I would like to hear from someone who uses those.

Praise for Montreal's Metro

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My wife and I just returned from a visit to Montreal, where we spent three days exploring the city on its wonderful Metro.

During those three days, I made a point of checking out the escalators and handicap elevators whenever we entered or exited a station and never saw one that was out of service.

Perhaps the Washington, D.C., Metro people ought to send some of their maintenance personnel to Montreal to find out how they accomplish that miracle.

David Phillips


I think there are competence and union issues here. At least that was what was reported by an outside panel.

'Bikes' Risky for Teens

Dear Dr. Gridlock

In response to Nancy Jennings's letter [Dr. Gridlock, June 30], you are right on in your effort to discourage a 16-year-old from driving a motorcycle. There is a great difference between driving a car and driving a "bike."

I lost an 18-year-old stepson because the auto in front of him stopped suddenly, and he struck the rear of the car. He was thrown from his bike and landed in the path of oncoming traffic. The driver who struck him had no chance to avoid doing so.

The young lady needs to get some real experience in traffic, which can best be done behind the wheel of a larger car such as a Chevy Caprice or Ford Crown Victoria.

More mass between her and anything else on the road will help keep her safe.

Stu Newman


Sorry about your loss. I would never allow one of my teenage daughters to operate or ride on a motorcycle. They are too inexperienced for the level of skill needed.

Shaving His Commute

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

At 9:30 a.m. July 12, a Tuesday, my husband and I were driving on Chain Bridge Road east toward Canal Road when we observed a cream-colored Honda Accord being operated in a dangerous fashion. The driver was oblivious to merging traffic.

On Canal Road, we signaled and tried to move over to the left lane to turn left onto Arizona Avenue NW.

The driver would not let any cars merge and was tailgating. When we caught up parallel to the car on Canal Road, we noticed that the driver was shaving with an electric razor!

And he continued to shave -- with his right hand on the wheel and left hand operating the shaver -- while driving south on Canal Road, then east on Arizona Avenue, turning left onto MacArthur Boulevard and heading north toward Sibley Memorial Hospital.

Cars were honking at him. He was swerving in and out of traffic and outside his lane and tailgating throughout the four or five minutes that we observed him.

What can someone do in a situation like that other than stay clear of the driver, as you've recommended in past columns? Can we report the driver after the fact, and will the authorities do anything if we take the time to do so?

Diana Culp Bork


You can dial #77 on your cell phone and report the offending motorist. Normally, police tell me, they will not respond to a traffic infraction unless it's a drunken driving or reckless driving offense.

Otherwise, stay out of their way, even to the point of changing your route.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursdays in Extra and Sundays 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.