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Lights said to give 2 sets of drivers right of way


WHILE THE problems at the intersection of Ridge Road and U.S. 40 and the adjacent entwined interchange with U.S. 29 have raised some concern among Howard drivers, that's not the only area on U.S. 40 to spark comment.

George Spence of Ellicott City pointed out another. "Although I'm not 100 percent sure of this, since I can't be in two places at once, I'm pretty sure the traffic light at the intersection of 40 and Rogers Avenue gives two sets of people the right of way at once. People who are eastbound on 40 have a green arrow to make a left turn or U-turn, and people coming from the north on Rogers Avenue have a right turn arrow simultaneously. The result is that two separate lanes of traffic are going hell bent for the westbound lanes of 40, unaware that the other drivers also think they have the right of way," he said.

"The same thing occurs at Ridge Road and 40. Eastbound traffic on 40 can make a U-turn while people coming from the north on Ridge Road have an arrow to turn right," he noted. " ... If you have a green arrow, you should be able to turn without having to dodge other cars. Is [it assumed] that you're going to stay in the closest lane? That's certainly not the case at the Ridge Road intersection, where one must quickly cross all lanes of 40 to reach the southbound ramp of U.S. 29."

No more islands

Ron McCandless wrote in response to the column Aug. 20, which continued the discussion about the new four-way stop on St. Johns Lane at Dunloggin Road.

"I agree with Donna Jayanathan that a four-way stop sign system was enough and the islands do cause a traffic hazard. Turning left from northbound St. Johns Lane onto Dunloggin is difficult not only because of the islands, but also what is on the right side if you go too wide to avoid the islands - a nice, large tree trunk. Also, if we get significant snow, how will the snowplows see the islands and not plow through them? ... " he said. "We also need a four-way stop at Chatham and Dunloggin because of both sight line problems and the speed of cars traveling on Chatham. And please, no traffic calming other than stop signs!"

Slowpokes in fast lane

The column Aug. 20 about emergency flashers prompted Janet Rogers, who lives in West Friendship, to comment about the prevailing tendency to speed. "I am often going much slower than all the traffic around me but I do not use my emergency blinkers," she said. "The reason is that I am doing the speed limit!"

"Everyone around me seems bent on running me over, pushing me off the road or cutting me off because I am going too slow for them. So which driver is safer?" she asked.

Although sometimes guilty of speeding, I do not advocate it. But speeding is a reality and lots of people do it. We need to learn to live with those who insist on speeding as well as with those who follow posted speed limits.

Let me clarify when emergency flashers are necessary: They are supposed to be used only if you're going at least 20 mph under the posted speed limit. That said, if you find yourself going much slower than the prevailing speed on a multilane highway, stay to the right, if only to let those bent on killing themselves with speed get around you. Nothing steams my radiator more than a slow-poke, however law-abiding, righteously cruising in the left lane.

So in theory, you're the safer driver, or at least the one who won't be cited as an official cause of an accident. If you stay to the right on highways (and that doesn't always mean in the right lane, but one of the two right-most lanes), then I believe you are the safer driver. But if you cruise in the left-most lane when other drivers are passing you on the right or tailgating (still no excuse for tailgating) and wishing to go faster, then you are contributing to a dangerous situation.

Legally, you are within your rights to drive to the left if you're going the speed limit. But that doesn't mean it's right.

More I-95 road work

Watch out, Interstate 95 travelers. Look for nighttime lane closures through Sept. 15 on I-95 south from about one mile before the eastbound Route 175 exit to just past it.

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

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