Slow lane, high speeds


September 11, 2005|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HAROLD KIRKWOOD believes speeders try to camouflage themselves by hiding out in the slow lane.

He is a frequent driver on Interstate 70 between Baltimore and Frederick, and for most of that stretch, the speed limit is 65 mph. He said that because of the distance, he gets into the center lane and maintains the speed limit.

"Many cars - and even some trucks - continually pass me to my right using the outside lane, when the high-speed lane is empty," he said. "It is dangerous, because they are zigzagging between the slower-moving cars, and many of the drivers are unaware of a speeder coming up on the right. ... My only guess as to why these people do this is that they think they are less likely to get a ticket in the slow lane," he said.

I wondered if that is true. Is speeding in the right lane your ticket to getting there faster?

"A person that is attempting to `hide' from police by driving above the speed limit in a lane other than the fast lane is certainly doing him or herself no favors, and is likely putting himself in more risk," said Howard County police spokeswoman Pfc. Jennifer Reidy.

"Your question deals with whether a speeder dodging between slower vehicles in the center or right-hand lane is less likely to be caught," she said.

"The answer is that they may be even more likely to be caught. Police are ... more likely to have their attention drawn to a speeding vehicle that is swerving through traffic than a speeder that is traveling in one lane consistently," she said.

"Not only does a swerving vehicle draw more attention ... but they are more likely to be reported to the police by another driver because of their erratic and dangerous driving behavior, causing police to actually go out looking for them," Reidy said.

"In addition, speeding in lanes where other drivers are going slower than you, and the swerving that ensues, is certainly a dangerous combination that can lead to more accidents and injuries," she said.

Help for an intersection

Donna Metcalf wonders about the intersection of Tamar Drive and Old Montgomery Road, where she has lived for almost 10 years. "Why hasn't the county installed a traffic light at that intersection?" she asked.

Although this seems to be a simple intersection, there are only three stop signs; drivers approaching the intersection from Tamar Drive in the housing development don't have a stop sign. "There have been lots of close calls at this intersection, mostly from drivers not aware that this is not a four-way stop. Why can't there be a light or at the least a four way stop here?" she wondered.

Good news! According to Mark DeLuca, chief of traffic engineering for Howard County, there are plans to improve the intersection to reduce the number of near misses.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at, 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. Include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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