Drivers pause to dance the cutoff waltz in traffic Fistfight: Two young women, each driving a sports car, took out their frustrations on each other. The result: a bloody nose, traffic tie-up and shocked onlookers.

Intrepid Commuter

February 03, 1997

IF YOU HAPPENED TO be near the corner of Chesapeake and Washington avenues at 2 p.m. Friday, you witnessed quite a show in driver aggression.

Just in front of the old Towson courthouse and near the Baltimore County police station, two sports cars driven by young women danced the old cutoff waltz. Seconds later, at the intersection's stoplight, car doors opened, tempers flared and punches flew.

County police responded in force -- four cars arrived on the scene with lights flashing -- and an ambulance was called in.

The final score: a black eye, a bruised eye and a broken nose.

No charges were filed in the incident, which lasted 15 minutes.

Worthy of a footnote: While the ladies duked it out in the street, a toddler sat in his car seat in one of the vehicles and witnessed his mother's descent into "Romper Room."

Let's hope he wasn't taking notes.

Some cell phone calls to #77 halted by lack of circuits

What happens when you dial #77 on your cell phone on Interstate 95?

Your Intrepid One tried it the other night, just south of the Delaware-Maryland line, to report a car stranded on the side of the road by a dead battery.

Sorry, Mr. Driver, but the call didn't go through. Circuits were not available.

So what is #77 anyway? Maryland State Police describe it as their eyes and ears on the highway, sort of a high-speed community policing network. And the call is free.

Since signs went up on I-95 three years ago asking drivers to report disabled cars or aggressive drivers by dialing #77, the number of calls has skyrocketed, state police spokeswoman Sgt. Laura Lu Herman said. For instance, 5,000 #77 calls were placed in both May and June.

Normally, #77 calls are transmitted to the state police barracks closest to the caller. Troopers are dispatched to the trouble site.

But state police say the cell phone sites at times get so jammed with regular calls that the #77 calls sometimes cause an overflow. This sends the highway reports to a barracks out of range, making the cell call moot.

Mike Barbarino of Baltimore wondered about the #77 phenomenon. "What advice do the state troopers offer about the use of this number?" he wrote to Intrepid.

The answer is to use it, but don't abuse it.

"We get a substantially gross amount of wrong information from #77 calls," said Trooper Dennis Deal. "Like when we get a call for an accident, and it's really an abandoned car."

Watch out for construction, landscaping trucks on road

What are the worst vehicles to drive behind on the highway?

State troopers Deal and Tracy A. Hart of the Golden Ring barracks say look out for construction and landscaping trucks.

Recently, Deal said, a landscaping truck placed a wheelbarrow in the back secured only with a bungee cord. When gravity and speed caused the wheelbarrow to fly off the truck, a seven-car pileup resulted.

Then, there was the construction truck that spilled a carton of roofing nails onto the outer loop of Interstate 695. As the truck sped merrily on its way, cars in its wake ran over the nails, blew out their tires and were stranded until a brigade of tow trucks saved the day.

"We never caught the truck," Deal said. "It kept on going, not knowing what damage it had caused."

Driver, beware.

Shortcuts

Each Wednesday this month,look for local high school choirs to perform inside select Metro stations around Baltimore between 8: 30 and 9 a.m. The serenade begins this week at the Johns Hopkins Metro station, where the Dunbar High School choir will perform a mixture of spirituals and gospel music in celebration of Black History Month. It now costs $5 per day to park in the Baltimore-Washington International Airport rail station garage, a 1,360-space lot that opened last summer -- with free parking -- to serve Maryland Rail Commuter service and Amtrak passengers.

Pub Date: 2/03/97

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