WE RECEIVED A disturbing letter from a woman who reviews traffic tickets issued by Baltimore County police officers for the District Court of Maryland. She enclosed several copies of speeding tickets:
* A 20-year-old man driving 125 mph in a 65 mph zone on Interstate 95 near Route 43 in White Marsh. $515 fine. Five points.
* A 25-year-old man driving 98 mph in a 65 mph zone on Interstate 83 in Hunt Valley. $265 fine.
* A 33-year-old man driving 113 mph in a 45 mph zone on U.S. 40 in Catonsville, just before the Howard County line. $515 fine. Five points.
She has many more equally chilling examples. But what's especially alarming is that these people were allowed to continue driving after being cited.
Intrepid lends a hand to fix pothole problem
Three weeks ago we wrote of a pothole-plagued stretch in West Baltimore and hinted that the city wasn't filling these "craters" fast enough.
We apparently struck a nerve with the city Department of Public Works because we soon received an invitation to spend a day with a pothole repair crew. We thought the invite was to ride along and observe workers filling potholes.
How naive can we get?
No sooner than the crew eyed a pothole on Pulaski Highway a crew member jammed a 20-pound tamper in Your Intrepid One's hands and had us pound the Perma-patch (gravel-like pothole filler) flush to the surface.
We did this for the better part of the day. This one crew filled about 50 potholes on the east side of town that day, about the same amount of holes filled by six other Eastside pothole crews.
These crews work relentlessly daily, cruising the streets in search of potholes as well as responding to complaints. The city takes potholes seriously, according to Vanessa C. Pyatt, a DPW spokeswoman.
If there's a pothole, give the city a day or so and there's a good chance it will get filled.
Impossible to ignore signs of drivers violating rules
We're heading home, traveling north on York Road and it's busy. Real busy. At the corner of Northern Parkway -- the same corner where the lovely sign that tells motorists that left turns are not allowed from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. -- a woman in a Jaguar waits to turn left.
And now the busy traffic that once flowed so smoothly backs up behind her.
We assume this woman is fairly literate because she's driving a fancy car with a statue of a snarling cat on its hood. So why does she choose to deliberately break the law, as well as irk us grunts behind her?
So, in the name of journalism, we followed her. At the Charles Street traffic signal we pulled alongside her, where we ask, "Excuse me, ma'am, but do you know you ran the no turn sign?" "I always do it," she says, and takes off.
This little exercise occurred after several letters from readers complaining of motorists disobeying the no-left-turn sign. We camped at the intersection during evening rush last week and saw many disobey the sign.
We informed city police and they said they will monitor the intersection.
We also told them the sign was the winner of The Intrepid One's Favorite Ignored Traffic Sign Or Signal Award Of The Week. They weren't impressed.
Car seat checkpoints make sense for safety
Here's something we really like and would like to see more of: child safety seat checkpoints by Baltimore County police officers at elementary schools throughout the county.
As part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "Safe and Somber" campaign, county officers will conduct child seat checkpoints near schools until the end of the month. Officers will issue citations for guilty parties.
Kids in car seats is an issue we've groaned endlessly about, but we're still amazed to see youngsters bobbing and weaving in car back seats, or unrestrained in the front seat.
According to the state, children under age 4 or weighing less than 40 pounds must be restrained in a child safety seat. Also, children under 10 who weigh more than 40 pounds must be secured in a child safety seat, or in a seat with a properly fastened safety belt.
Motorists who don't abide by this law are subject to a $40 fine, which Your Intrepid One feels is too low. A couple of points added to their driving records would be fine with us.
Lt. Minda Foxwell of the county's traffic unit said parents should obey this law, and not only when transporting youngsters to school.
Let's just hope that police in the city and neighboring counties see the success of this program and establish similar ones.
Keep in touch
You can mail, send by fax or call in questions or comments for the Intrepid Commuter. Here's how:
* Mail letters -- The Baltimore Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278.
* Fax line -- (410) 752-6049.
* Call Sundial, The Baltimore Sun's telephone information service. 783-1800, enter Ext. 4305. From Anne Arundel County, dial 268-7736.