Protests on unyielding drivers ramped up

TRAFFIC TALK

April 27, 2004|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A LOT of you have been writing about highway entrance/exit ramps. The rules for ramps are simple: Incoming drivers are supposed to yield to those already on the highway or who wish to exit. Makes sense to me.

According to Hollis Burl, many drivers out there don't get it.

"As a daily commuter on [Interstate] 95 and other highways, I am driven insane by folks getting on the highway who fail to yield the right of way to those of us trying to get off. I think people, over time, have started to assume that the entry/exit go round is a free-for-all," he said. "[Recently], some woman refused to yield to me when I was trying to get off I-95 at Route 100 and she was trying to get on I-95. I managed to exit and this lady had the nerve to gesticulate rudely in my direction, unaware, obviously, that she was in error. No one seems to know the law in regard to right of way, nor do they notice the big, honking yield sign. I'd love to see some of these people ticketed."

Irene Fricker has another approach to letting oncoming drivers find a place on the highway, and it depends upon what type of vehicle you're driving. "I agree that it is rude and dangerous to attempt to prevent another car from merging onto a highway or to re-enter a lane after passing. But, I confess there is a time when I do just that," she said. "It is when the traffic is heavy, and changing lanes is difficult AND when the vehicle attempting to get in front of me is a behemoth. I'm sorry, but I do not like to drive for long distances behind a vehicle I cannot see past. So, if you are driving one of those enormous [vehicles] you should expect that people in normal-sized cars do not want you in front of them."

Take that, you Hummer and Tahoe drivers! And one final pet peeve about on-ramp confusion comes from Sean Gahagan. "One of the things that gets me are the people driving in the right-hand lane on a highway and slow down or come to a stop to let a driver enter the highway from an entrance ramp," he said. "This could possibly be one of the most dangerous habits I have witnessed."

Speaking of pet peeves, pets on the road can be problematic, too, according to Charlotte Hains.

"I have noticed recently that dogs could be very distracting for the driver, especially when they ride in the driver's lap. I first noticed this recently when I was in a drive-thru line. The driver could hardly conduct her business with the dog that insisted on leaning out the driver's window," she said. "Since then, I have noticed more of this activity, the dog sitting cozily on the driver's lap. I have also observed dogs sitting obediently in the passenger seat but could be a distraction if something unexpected happened. What nonsense! And dangerous."

Pets belong in back seats and in made-for-pets restraining systems - for their sake and the driver's safety. In fact, every year pets - mostly dogs - needlessly suffer cruel deaths because their owners leave them in hot cars. It's almost May, so remember to leave your pets at home, where they will be safe.

Why? On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a shaded car is 90 degrees: hot but bearable. The inside of a vehicle parked in the sun, however, can reach 160 degrees in less than 15 minutes. Animals (and babies and children, too) can suffer heatstroke in the time it takes to run into the store for just that one item.

If you see a dog (or child) left alone in a vehicle, take down the vehicle's color, model, make and license plate number and have the owner paged inside the store, or call the Howard County Animal Welfare Society at 410-465-4350 if it is a dog - or the police (right away) if it is a child.

Do whatever is necessary to get dogs (or children) out of vehicles; their lives may depend on it.

Helpful suggestion

Ben Harris offers this helpful suggestion, which I have passed along to the State Highway Administration. "I wonder about the possibility of getting the state to put up signs along the interstates suggesting that `Slower Traffic Keep Right' - signs that I have seen elsewhere, including along the New Jersey Turnpike," he said. "Also, wasn't there a law passed last year that made it illegal to stay in the left lane when faster-moving traffic was coming up behind you?"

Not last year, but yes, there is a law that requires you to move to the right to allow faster drivers to pass - regardless of their speed. You could look it up: Section 21-303 of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Code, under the heading, "General Rules Governing Overtaking and Passing Vehicles."

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net, send faxes to 410-715-2816 or mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 30 Corporate Center, 10440 Little Patuxent Parkway, Suite 820, Columbia, 21044. Please include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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