Dear Dr. Gridlock:

If more people realized that there is a "keep right except to pass" law, they would be more likely to move over. Currently, many people sit in the left lane with no regard for traffic flow.

Signs indicating such a regulation would encourage law-abiding, but slower, drivers to move over.

Mike Ahearn


It might, but there is no point, because Maryland, the District and Virginia do not have a law requiring slower traffic to stay right. (Virginia does have a law requiring motorists in the left lane to move right if an overtaking driver signals an intent to pass by flashing the vehicle's lights or sounding the horn.)

I understand that New Jersey and Connecticut have a law requiring slower traffic to stay to the right. I'd like to hear from motorists who drive in those states about how the law is working.

Route 210 Ramp to Open

A new ramp from Route 210 (Indian Head Highway) northbound to the outer loop of the Beltway is scheduled to open today. This larger ramp should provide more holding room for vehicles trying to make the connection and relieve some of the gridlock on northbound Route 210.

But the core problem -- too many vehicles trying to squeeze onto too few Beltway lanes -- will not be alleviated. The problem will continue until 2008, when the new Route 210 interchange is completed and the Beltway is widened to five lanes in each direction, according to John Undeland, a spokesman for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project.

You can follow the changing traffic patterns by logging on to

Considering all the congestion in the area, why not ask your supervisor if you can work at home, at least until the construction is finished? Let me know if he/she says yes. Or, ask whether you can work at one of the telework satellite offices in Southern Maryland. Call 800-695-6105 for more information.

Lights On -- Always

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Recently, signs were posted on Route 32 in Howard County between Routes 108 and 144 that say "Mandatory Headlight Use" and "Avoid the Fine -- Turn Lights On." Nowhere is there a sign stating the fine.

Could you find out what the fine is for not turning on your headlights? Also, I have traveled that road six or seven times since the signs went up and I have noticed that about 25 percent of the drivers do not turn on their headlights. Are the police planning to enforce the signs?

Lynda Kinder


Those signs were put up to enhance safety in a section of Route 32 that has only one lane in each direction and a 55 mph speed limit, according to Maryland State Highway Administration spokesman Chuck Gischlar.

That Route 32 segment is one of only three such areas in Maryland where headlights must be on at all times. The others are on Route 90 in the Ocean City area and on Route 15 south of Frederick.

The fine for failing to burn headlights as required by law is $45, according to the Maryland State Police. A spokesman, Sgt. Rob Maroney, said police will enforce the law, but I gathered from the way he explained it that it is not a high priority.

Be sure to have your own headlights on, Ms. Kinder, and you might quickly flash them at oncoming motorists who are not in compliance with the law.

Where's the Kiss and Ride?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

What are the plans to reopen a kiss-and-ride area at the College Park Metro station? I thought it was supposed to be there when the new garage opened, but I don't see any signs for it.

Meanwhile, during rush hour, cars line up along the curb of River Road all the way to the intersection with Paint Branch Parkway.

As I turn right from Paint Branch, I immediately have to get into the left lane on River Road. Further compounding the problem is the fact that people who are just doing a quick drop off often don't even pull to the curb, thus blocking the remaining lane of traffic on River Road.

Ann Wass


Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel says the kiss-and-ride lot is on the ground floor, inside the garage. Clearly Metro could do a better job publicizing it, because you and other regulars can't find it. Look inside the garage, and tell me if that solves the problem.

Blue Lights Special?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I live in Northern Virginia and drive into the District for work. On a number of occasions lately, I have seen individual Metropolitan Police Department cars running their blue lights without their sirens.

A few times, I have pulled over to let them by, but they are almost never driving faster than usual and in fact don't seem to be in any hurry at all (they wait in line at a red light like other cars, for example).

What's up with that? Am I still required to pull over and make way for them when I see them? Or is there just some new policy that has them running their blue lights even when they're just tooling around town -- a policy that doesn't require me to get out of the way?

Rebecca Davis-Nord


D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey noticed that Israeli police used their emergency lights just to let citizens know that police were around. So a couple of years ago, Ramsey directed cruisers on patrol to display flashing blue lights.

You don't have to pull over for them, according to police spokesman Quintin Peterson. You need to pull over only if you hear a siren.

That seems confusing to me. I can see why you'd be puzzled, Ms. Davis-Nord.

A Meter Matter

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Your warning about parking at broken meters in the District was right on [Dr. Gridlock, Nov. 17]. I had the same situation -- a broken meter -- and reported it, but I got a ticket. I mailed it in with the explanation of the broken meter, submitted the report number and fully expected the fine to be dismissed.

To my amazement, I received a long letter back detailing how the Department of Public Works had checked the meter before, during and after the time of my infraction and determined the meter to be fully operational. This after I lost several quarters in the meter.

To read the letter, it sounded as if they dismantled the meter, checked the software and found it to be just fine. I think it's a racket.

Mary Cavanaugh


It could be incompetence, or an oversight. I wouldn't park at a broken meter. Once you get into the ticket adjudication system, it can be hard to get out.

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 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.