Rude, crude, impatient Etiquette: Flashing high beams to hurry the driver in front is bad manners and could earn a $40 ticket.

The Intrepid Commuter

March 16, 1998

SOMETHING like a quick flash of lightning startled commuter Jeri Delambo recently on eastbound Northern Parkway.

But it turned out to be a man-made storm.

"Another driver began flashing his high beams at my husband to pull over since we were in the right lane. The other driver, in a Jeep, drove around us and got in front of us in time to catch the light at Roland Avenue. At the light, he gave us the finger for the entire duration of the red light."

Obscene salute aside, what really bothered Delambo was the flashing lights. This is of concern to your Intrepid wheelster, also.

Such Zeus-like gestures are not only extremely rude, they don't work. Human nature being what it is, most drivers bullied by the vehicle flash often dig in and refuse to yield the lane.

Sgt. Laura Lu Herman of the Maryland State Police said that if caught, such flashers are subject to a $40 fine for not dimming the high beams within 300 feet of another vehicle. The vehicle code, a maze of bureaucratese, states: "Whenever the driver of a vehicle approaches another vehicle from the rear within 300 feet, the driver shall use a distribution of light permissible under this" law.

Intrepid believes the high-beamed cowboy who harassed Delambo should be made to write this portion of our beloved code 1,000 times on a chalkboard. After doing so, he may: 1) understand it, and 2) lose the impulse to flash others again.

More riders discovering light rail system

State bureaucrats were hopping for joy last week upon learning that 1,300 additional commuters were using light rail service to Baltimore-Washington International Airport and to Pennsylvania Station after lines to those locations opened in December.

State Department of Transportation totals include 24,300 daily boardings on light rail -- once dubbed "lite rail" because of its slow start in winning commuters' hearts.

"One of the the keys to growing ridership on light rail is to make transit more accessible to our citizens," said Gov. Parris N. Glendening. "These ridership figures indicate that both travelers and workers are choosing light rail to get to the airport."

Added Maryland Transportation Secretary David L. Winstead: "We're starting to see some of the benefits of this much-needed link between air travel and public transportation."

Another light rail extension, to the Hunt Valley business hub -- home of about 30,000 jobs -- logs 3,000 daily passengers since the rails opened there in September.

Electronic traffic messages are fast, not always right

Seen on an electronic sign board on Interstate 695 last week was a warning almost certain to send most busy commuters into rush-hour-late-for-work panic: "Expect heavy traffic between Exits 19 and 24."

Granted, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that heavy traffic nearly always exists between those exits, which connect to Interstates 795 and 83, respectively. On most days, that part of the Beltway at rush hour can be gridlock city.

But one commuter discovered that the sign board was blinking a false message.

"It was smooth driving, with not even a pause at the usual backup at Reisterstown Road," she told Intrepid One, in a state of amazement.

Another time, she added, a message board warned motorists to expect a dreaded traffic delay, yet indicated that all lanes were flowing. But two lanes were totally blocked by disabled vehicles.

What gives here? Does the State Highway Administration need to check its facts?

David Buck, a spokesman for SHA, said last week that information is fed to the signs from a typist stationed at a central traffic operations center.

It takes seconds to post warnings after delays are spotted by reporters on traffic helicopters, SHA workers on the road, and commuters who dial #77 to report accidents or road problems.

What seems to be a bit slow, however, is updating and erasing the boards after woes clear up. Buck said that task is a standing priority.


Mass Transit Administration workers have closed Monument Street between Eutaw Street and Linden Avenue until mid-May for construction of a subway vent shaft. Detours include traveling east on Centre Street to Howard Street and to Madison Street for northbound commuters and vice versa for westbound travelers.

Keep in touch

You can mail, wire, fax or call in questions or comments for the Intrepid Commuter. Here's how:

Mail letters -- The Sun, 1300 Bellona Ave., Lutherville 21093.

E-Mail --

Fax line -- 410-494-2916.

Call Sundial, The Baltimore Sun's telephone information service. 410-783-1800, enter Ext. 4305. From Anne Arundel County, dial 410-268-7736.

Pub Date: 3/16/98

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