Dear Dr. Gridlock:

On the westbound stretch of Dale Drive between Piney Branch Road and Wayne Avenue in Silver Spring, the highway department has programmed an electronic sign to read, "You Win. Daytime Paving. No Street Parking Bet 9am-5pm."

What is that all about?!

Richard Wong

Derwood

The county was doing resurfacing work on Dale Drive in the middle of the night. Residents complained, understandably. Looks like the county has responded.

Traffic Light Timing

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

How can I report a poorly timed light at a major intersection in Potomac?

Ashley Quamme

Potomac

Write Thomas D. Pogue, Community Outreach Manager, Montgomery County Department of Public Works and Transportation, 101 Monroe St., 10th Floor, Rockville, Md. 20850.

A Good Start

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

This is a fan letter to you and the Car Guys. Long before my daughter was old enough to drive, I decided she would take one of those daylong defensive driving classes you are always recommending. She took the Car Guys class on Labor Day weekend, and this morning it really paid off.

My daughter, who is still driving on her learner's permit, handled a very dangerous situation with skill and aplomb. Her dad and I are still scared, but she was fine.

She was driving south on Interstate 270 this morning from Gaithersburg to her bus stop at Tilden Middle School. Usually she stays in the right lane, but this morning we were running late, and my husband suggested she get in the carpool lane to save time. Just as she was moving into the lane, another car attempted to enter it. He was aimed right at us.

My daughter quickly steered the car to the left and partly onto the shoulder, then smoothly pulled it right back. This is a traffic challenge that new drivers often mess up. They oversteer and go off the road, or they panic as they go off the road and jerk the steering wheel too far in the other direction. My daughter handled it like a pro.

Thank you, Car Guys, and thank you, Dr. Gridlock, for recommending them. I now have some reassurance that my daughter may be a safe solo driver when she gets her full license.

Melissa Yorks

Gaithersburg

Thanks for the feedback. Car Guys of Rockville can be reached through 800-800-GUYS.

I trust that you will continue with her training and will allow a license only when you are comfortable that she has the necessary skills to go solo. Sounds like she has a good start.

A Vote for Cab Meters

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Per your request for readers' preference for metered or zoned fares for District taxicabs: My vote is for meters.

As I see it, the zone system is an open invitation to cheat all passengers who do not routinely travel a fixed route.

Brent Malcolm

Silver Spring

Paying for a cab ride through the zone system is a mystery to many of us. I think we'd like to know how much we're being charged and see the number displayed, as we would on any cash register.

Fuel Economy

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

It is not speed alone that wastes fuel, but also unnecessary speed changes. When I visit my family and fiancee in New York, I drive late at night. That means I can set my cruise control to a steady highway speed, get into the middle lane and not have to change my speed.

I end up getting spectacular mileage that way.

Contrast that with stop-and-go driving, which wastes gas and causes more wear on the car.

Jeff Poretsky

Wheaton

It's hard to avoid stop-and-go driving in this metropolitan area. It's one thing to drive to New York late at night, another to drive Georgia Avenue anytime.

Urban Deer

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

On the subject of deer, you don't have to go to a two-lane, forest-lined road to see them in the Washington area. Several times recently, I have seen a pair of these beautiful animals while driving on 16th Street NW, most recently near Military Road.

Andrew Teter

Silver Spring

I-95's HOV Schedule

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Would you kindly inform me which days and hours the HOV lanes along Interstate 95 are open to the north and to the south?

Roger Mudd

McLean

The barrier-divided Interstate 395/95 HOV-3 lanes are open to everybody, including non-carpoolers, as follows:

Southbound:

From 1 to 3:30 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

From 1 to 3:30 p.m. Fridays, and from 6 p.m. Fridays until 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Northbound:

From 9 to 11 a.m. and from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

From 9 to 11 a.m. Fridays.

From 4 p.m. Saturdays to 6 a.m. Mondays.

HOV-3 hours are 6 to 9 a.m. northbound and 3:30 to 6 p.m. southbound, Mondays through Fridays.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in The 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.