Left-lane proposal still yields comments


The proposed yield-the-left-lane law that passed the House of Delegates last month, and is under consideration in the Senate, is still bringing in the e-mail! Here's what you had to say over the past week:

Joy Gajewski is "appalled" by the proposal to "ticket left lane drivers."

"If this proposal passes, let's look at this. I'm in the left lane and going 65 mph, but the guy behind me wants to [go] 80 or above? Where does it stop?" she asked.

"And if these [examples] aren't bad enough, let's look at one more: the new driver, whether they are on a learner's permit or a provisional license. What are we telling them? Everyone states that teens contribute to most of the accidents on the road. Now you're going to tell them, 'You must speed if you're in the left lane'? How ludicrous! Why not remove all speed limit signs and run the highways in Maryland like the German [Autobahn]?"

I agree that the proposed law is problematic and probably unenforceable. But why can't we also teach new drivers to yield to faster drivers - just as a matter of safety and common sense? Too often, drivers don't yield to other drivers because their egos overtake their senses of self-preservation. It is time to teach all drivers that it is OK to drive more slowly - as long as you're in the right lane.

"I have to just laugh at the proposal for the left lane violation being considered in the legislature. The left lane issue is not a matter of speed, but of right of way, and the free and efficient flow of traffic," Bill Perigo said.

David Towle weighs in on Brian McAllister's comments on slow drivers pulling over to let faster ones or tailgaters pass.

"It's about time Maryland caught up with other states that have similar laws. Nicer yet, it would be great if Marylanders would adopt a practice that drivers in Texas employ when driving on single lane roads - pulling off on the shoulder to let faster traffic pass if traffic prevents passing.

"And, they don't even need to be prodded (blowing horns, flashing lights, tailgating) to do it! It's a routine there. It's customary to wave a thanks as you pass them by. It's also called 'courtesy,' but I guess that's why it's never seen in Maryland. Texas has nice wide shoulders on most of its roads and that allows for this to work well," he said.

Miscellaneous peeves

Dave Leonard recently raised some concerns about signs on Route 32 eastbound leading to U.S. 29. "The State Highway Administration has a good idea, but their signage makes for a mess if you're traveling east on 32 and desiring to go north on 29," he said. There's a solid white line about a quarter-mile before the cloverleaf; signs indicate '29 South to Washington.' Drivers who want to take U.S. 29 north should get into the same exit lane and continue past the south exit to take the next exit. But most, especially those unfamiliar with the cloverleaf, will stay in the right lane, which then becomes the center lane.

"The problem is that unless you know to get in that right lane you end up in the center lane and then have to cut across a slightly separated double white line to get to the second part of the exit. The signage should read '29 south to Washington' and 'north to Columbia' in the right lane with further signage just before the first right turn indicating that those desiring to go north should continue over 29 [the bridge] and make the next right onto the northbound ramp," he said.

J. Wynne recently sent an e-mail with a question I could not answer: "How many drivers in Howard County understand the significance of a pedestrian crosswalk? Based on my experience of crossing Homespun Lane at the Cradlerock traffic circle almost every day, it's about one in 10 drivers. [Recently] while I stood waiting on the curb at the crosswalk, three cars zipped by without even slowing down, much less stopping. The third ... was a Howard County police car."

And more from Brian McAllister: "[Many] Maryland drivers are unaware or choose to ignore the 'lights on if your wipers are on' law," he said. "In addition, the highest percentage of them are female and drive cars that have colors that disappear in bad driving conditions. Also, they do not realize that the system that allows vehicles to have daytime running lights does not affect the rear lights," he said.

Good point, Mr. McAllister, although I haven't noticed a difference in the number of women vs. men flouting this law. This law has been on the books for a while, folks. When it rains and when your wipers are on, put on your headlights.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net 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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