Seeking kinder course for drive-time disputes Contest: Safety foundation's competition seeks to help drivers find a way to say 'I'm sorry' when they err behind the wheel.

Intrepid Commuter

September 15, 1997

WHAT'S A good gesture for "I'm sorry?"

That's the subject of a new contest sponsored by the AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety as the latest attempt to curb road rage takes root.

Drivers with ideas are urged to log onto the foundation's Web site at http: //www.aaafts.org and scroll through the page until directions for the contest appear.

Most drivers refuse to accept it when they have made a road-related mistake -- instead they take the opposite tack and make an obscene gesture or blast their horn in defiance and utter arrogance.

It happened to Intrepid last week while traveling on Eastern Avenue in Highlandtown -- a motorist, clearly in the wrong during a lane change, ignored his mistake and blared his horn (which sounded like the Queen Mary) at your wheelster.

A simple gesture of mea culpa would have sufficed.

So put on your thinking caps, wire over to the AAA Web site and enter the "I'm sorry" contest. The best answers will receive a retro-reflective safety device suitable for cyclists and pedestrians. Results will be published Oct. 1 on the Web site -- and in this space.

"If drivers could apologize to each other when they make a mistake, we might see a decrease in aggressive driving," says the foundation's Christopher Johnson.

State Farm customers to receive refund payments

Here's the latest from the world of insurance: State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. announced last week it will pay $15.9 million to Maryland insurance policyholders because auto claims have been less than expected.

The dividends are part of a $700 million national program of payments in 30 states and the District of Columbia by the company, based in Bloomington, Ind. State Farm has returned $1.5 billion to policy holders since 1991.

Think of all the postage the company could have saved by lowering its rates. Beginning Oct. 1, State Farm will do just that -- by an average of 1.6 percent -- the company says, to match the lower claims.

The refund payments will be made by check or credit to customer accounts beginning Nov. 1.

Mays Chapel motorists count the 'daze' till help arrives

Mays Chapel is turning into "Daze Chapel" as morning rush-hour drivers jam up along Padonia Road with blank, nowhere-to-go expressions on their faces while trying to maneuver toward Interstate 83.

The problem has gotten worse lately because of townhouse sprawl that's crept westward toward hilly horse country in Baltimore County. In the morning rush, so many drivers pack Padonia that some have taken evasive action by turning around and heading out the back way to Jennifer Road and then over Timonium Road.

One 10-year resident, Gloria Romanello, says she's seen traffic woes increase gradually over the years to the point where it is simply terrible.

In rush hour, Romanello said, "The traffic coming down Padonia just doesn't stop."

Romanello suggested that a traffic light be installed at Padonia and Greenpoint roads -- a major intersection just before the I-83 interchange.

That's a true hot spot where traffic from the megadevelopment along Greenpoint reaches gridlock proportions as it tries to turn onto Padonia and head toward the highway.

Darrell Wiles, chief of the county's traffic engineers, said his office studied the Padonia-Greenpoint problem last year and concluded a traffic light is not necessary.

Instead, Wiles said engineers met with State Highway Administration bureaucrats and both decided to place a traffic light just off the southbound I-83 ramp. That will appear by spring 1998, Wiles said.

Shortcuts

City Department of Public Works crews called Intrepid One early Monday to report they had set out to fill those potholes on the Jones Falls Expressway near Pennsylvania Station. Crews closed lanes and slowed traffic to do so in the wee hours Sept. 6 -- and they hurried through the chore so they wouldn't miss the chance to watch the funeral of Princess Diana on television. What dedication! Private contractors for the State Highway Administration are busy resurfacing Route 145 between Jarrettsville Pike and Manor Glen Road, a nearly five-mile stretch. Look for single lane closures between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and "flag persons" directing traffic Let's all brace for a 60-day tube closure at the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel Thruway beginning at 9 p.m. Sunday. Two-way traffic will greet commuters there for two grueling months so the concrete ramps to the tunnel can be rehabilitated. Maryland Transportation Authority officials suggest drivers reroute to Key Bridge and Fort McHenry Tunnel for relief.

Pub Date: 9/15/97

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