Drivers ignore left-turn signal Dangerous practice: Drivers who go straight when a left-turn-only arrow is on are inviting a sideswipe.

The Intrepid Commuter

November 06, 1995

OK, NOW WE'RE getting mad. We've tried to stay calm. But no more. A nerve has been struck.

We're talking about eastbound traffic on Argonne Drive in Northeast Baltimore and many of those wonderful drivers who refuse to obey the left-turn-only sign at Loch Raven Boulevard.

There are two lanes, folks, and one is for left turn only, as the sign clearly states and an arrow clearly indicates. Beyond the intersection, the two lanes narrow into one for traffic going straight.

Granted, the sign was installed only about two months ago, and it takes time to adjust to the new traffic pattern. But we've seen lots of near-sideswipes from drivers who keep straight and don't turn.

It happened to your Intrepid One last week. We were at the red light next to one of those four-wheel-drive monsters (which, we must admit, was quite intimidating next to our Japanese dinker). The light changed, and we both took off. We tried to ease into the left lane to go straight, expecting the Four Wheeler would turn -- but it didn't, and we almost collided.

But what really irked me was afterward he gave us, the Intrepid One, "The Look."

So we called the cops. A police spokesman said the intersection will be monitored to catch these villains. We told police to look out for that red four-wheel drive thing.

Sensors to make roads safer

Driving on state highways should be better this winter thanks to hockey-puck sized sensors embedded in roads that can provide reports on hazardous driving conditions.

By the end of this month, 20 high-tech sensors capable of giving road crews information on the temperature of the pavement and whether the road is dry or covered with rain, ice, snow or frost will be installed throughout the state, according to the State Highway Administration.

If the road is covered with precipitation, the sensors will compute when the road will freeze, said David Rossbach, an SHA spokesman. With that knowledge, road crews can treat roads before they become treacherous for motorists.

With the high-tech gadgets, crews will be able to respond more quickly to roads covered with a slippery layer of ice and snow, Mr. Rossbach said.

An additional 20 sensors are to be installed by spring.

Mr. Rossbach said the sensors also are being used on runways at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. We have the answer to a puzzling query posed by Joe Bollinger, who wondered why Interstate 97 was numbered 97 instead of one of a 95-related numbers.

He reasoned that because the road connects to Interstates 695 and 795, it should be given one of the 95 numbers, perhaps something like 595?

We sought advice from the state highway whizzes. Here is the policy: Interstates that run north to south typically are given odd numbers, such as Interstate 95. Interstates that travel east to west typically are given even numbers, such as Interstate 70.

If the interstate has a three-digit number that begins with an even number, it is circumventive (shaped like a loop), like Interstate 695 (the Baltimore Beltway) and Interstate 495 (the Capitol Beltway). If the interstate has a three-digit number that begins with an odd number, it is a spur from a main artery.

"Generally speaking, this is the rule of thumb," said Chuck Brown of SHA.

As for Mr. Bollinger's question about why I-97 is not part of the 95 series, Mr. Brown said it is not considered a spur from a main artery, but a stand-alone route.

No-truck lanes?

The Baltimore Beltway is not one of our favorite roads.

One reason is motorists don't always pay attention to road signs. For example, why is it that everyone else sails by and gives us The Look for going too slowly in the center lanes when we're doing 55? The speed limit is 55, isn't it? N. Schwarz, who has driven the Beltway for 30 years, has a problem with trucks in the left lanes between exits 12 and 15 where signs are posted "No Trucks Left Two Lanes."

"In all the time I've driven on the Beltway, I've never seen one truck pulled over [and ticketed] for being in those left two lanes," she said.

However, Cpl. Laura Lu Herman of the Maryland State Police said troopers do enforce the Beltway ban on trucks in the left two lanes and that violators are subject to a $50 fine and one point on their driving record. But she said the law is difficult to enforce during rush hours because of the heavy traffic volume.

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