Unwritten rules to live and drive by


May 21, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IN AN effort to combat discourtesy and promote common sense, I asked last week for suggested "unwritten rules" that don't appear on Maryland's law books, but would make our driving lives easier - and probably safer. Here are some of your thoughts on unwritten rules to drive by.

"If you're looking for an address or street you're not familiar with, don't hold up traffic by driving 15 miles below the speed limit," suggests Mike Brill of Woodbine. Instead, he recommends that drivers in this situation "pull over to let the line behind you pass or resign yourself to making a U turn if you pass your street."

Another idea is to just pull over to consult your map or directions.

It's all about gratitude, Trudy Conroy of Fulton, believes. "If someone lets you in, wave your hand to thank them," she says.

Along the same theme, Megan Hall, who lives in North Laurel, wants to resurrect the "random acts of kindness" campaign of the 1990s. "Do something nice - act nice - to other drivers, even if they blatantly don't deserve it," she says. "Maybe they'll get a clue about how civilized folk should behave and pass on the good deed."

Drivers' quick resort to honking when traffic lights turn green irks Eric Nami of Catonsville. "Get the message out," he asks. "I'm not entering an intersection until after the light turns green, and not until I'm sure the way is clear of bozos running red lights."

His rule to live by? "Trust drivers in front of you to make their own decision about when to enter an intersection, whether it's a four-way stop or lighted intersection," Nami says, adding that when drivers behind him honk him, it only delays his entering the intersection as he pauses a moment to see what's going on behind him.

Joe Park, who lives in Clarksville, resorts to sarcasm to get his message across. "Don't tailgate me - whether I'm traveling at 25 mph or 65 mph. Oh wait - that's a written rule," he said. "Use your signals to let other drivers know when you intend to turn. But that's a written rule, too."

Merging was noted by several drivers. "If there are no cars behind me, pull in behind me. Don't cut in front," says Gail Karesh May.

Ellicott City's Jim Johnson sums it all up. "As our roads get more crowded, we all just have to use common sense. It is just common sense to yield to merging cars and help maintain a steady and safe flow of traffic. Drivers that speed up or fail to back off a little bit at a merge situation are not using common sense. We all hopefully will get to our destinations that day, and getting there one or two minutes earlier does not really make a big difference," he says.

Amen to that.

New traffic signal

I've received a lot of complaints about the intersection of Route 103 and Illchester Road.

It's dangerous, for several reasons. There's limited visibility. Heavy traffic on Route 103 makes left turns hazardous. With several schools (public and private) just off Illchester Road during the time periods when children are dropped off and picked up, there is a lot of extra traffic. People try to beat slow school buses, often cutting them off as they turn onto Route 103. Even without the school buses, I've seen people take chances when turning left into traffic at this intersection. And I've witnessed several accidents there.

Relief is on the way. The State Highway Administration will begin installing a traffic signal at the intersection by early next month. The traffic light should be installed and operating by the end of July.

And one more thing ...

Walter Lamb, who runs www.cigarettelitter.org, the Web site that provides a lot of interesting, but scary facts about cigarette litter, responded to Steve Clarkson's comments about cars lacking ashtrays. While I hardly think Mr. Clarkson was defending smokers who litter, Mr. Lamb clarifies the issue.

"I cannot tell you how many visitors to our site rationalize their cigarette litter because someone they know has a car with no standard ashtray. When we ask what they do with their cigarettes when they are in cars with ashtrays [still the majority], most admit that they litter from those cars, as well," he said. "When buying a new car, smokers should take the ashtray option. Or, for under $10 they can get a portable car ashtray, as you noted. There is simply no excuse for littering cigarettes or anything else."

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net. Technophobes can mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 300, Columbia 21044, or fax 410-715-2816.

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