Merging problems emerge on the Route 32 interchange


October 16, 2005|By JODY K. VILSCHICK

Peter Smith has noticed disturbing driving behavior around the Route 32 interchange with Broken Land Parkway. "What I haven't noticed is any police enforcement of the traffic laws which govern against these trends," he said.

His biggest concern is that motorists exiting from eastbound Route 32 onto southbound Broken Land Parkway don't seem to know yield signs. "Most offenders are approaching the southbound lane of traffic at high speed, despite the presence of southbound traffic in the immediate area of the yield," he said, noting that he's witnessed a number of near collisions and a couple of road rage incidents when southbound traffic did not yield to motorists barreling down the ramp from eastbound Route 32.

He said that a similar problem exists at the westbound Route 32 and northbound Broken Land Parkway intersection (exacerbated by the nearby intersection of Broken Land Parkway and Snowden River Parkway).

As if the failures to yield to southbound traffic from eastbound Route 32 were not enough, Smith noted that many motorists also seem to "feel free" to make illegal U-turns on Broken Land Parkway -- regardless of oncoming traffic. "It's really a free-for-all out there. Drivers education instructors everywhere would have a field day with all the mistakes made here," he said.

Circle stories

I never thought of a traffic circle as a thrill ride, until Peter Wharton's comments landed in my in-box. He scoffs at Maryland motorists' timidity, even as he helps put our fear of the circle into perspective.

"If you think the roundabouts in Maryland are chaotic, may I suggest that you avoid driving in Paris," he said.

"The Arc de Triomphe has 12 avenues that feed into the [circle] that surrounds it. The [circle] has the reputation of being one of the most difficult to navigate in France because of the traffic. It has somewhere between 6 and 12 lanes of traffic, although without painted traffic lanes it's hard to tell. Insurance companies refuse to insure cars when they use this roundabout. And, to make matters more interesting, on this roundabout the cars entering the circle have the right-of-way because the rule that the car on the right has the right-of-way at an intersection even holds true at traffic circles in France." he said.

He described the emotions of driving this circle as "something akin to taking a roller coaster to work in the morning."

Mike White responded to the past two weeks' columns about roundabouts with incredulity. "I can't believe all these people kvetching about traffic circles! Having driven in Rome on a recent holiday, I've learned that the best approach is just to dive right in full speed ahead. Let the others worry about yielding and all that," he said.

But he warned, "Oh, you might ruffle a few feathers (Americans can be so territorial) but no one wants to have an accident so, believe me, they'll do whatever they [can] to avoid one and you just go on your merry way, no problem."

While I admire your courage in driving in foreign cities in unfamiliar situations, I urge Maryland's motorists to take a more cautious approach.

I always enjoy hearing about your driving experiences in different places -- so keep your stories coming.

Resurfacing projects

The State Highway Administration has begun to resurface several roads in Howard County, including along Route 108 between Eliots Oak Road and Centennial Lane, along Route 108 between Route 216 (Skaggsville Road) and Guilford Road and along Route 144 (Frederick Road) between Route 97 and Bushy Park Road. Weather permitting, the projects will be complete by the end of the year. Expect both non-rush daytime and nighttime single-lane closures along these roads.

Safe students

Traffic Talk congratulates the following Howard County high school students for having been "caught" driving courteously in the past three weeks by Courtesy on the Road Inc., an organization promoting courteous driving: Matthew Heinrich, Oakland Mills; Elizabeth Herbert, Centennial; Vivienne Hurt, River Hill.

Kudos also are due to the student drivers of Glenelg High School, who have replaced River Hill as the school leading in participating in Courtesy on the Road's safe-driving initiative. Traffic Talk also applauds the new drivers of Mount Hebron High School, who have moved from ninth place up to third place, according to Courtesy on the Road President Lisa Morrow.

What is your driving dilemma? 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. Please include your full name and contact information or your comments will not be published or receive a response.

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