I knew it wasn’t just me and here’s the proof: the DMV’s traffic congestion has been ranked 2nd worst in the country, according to Forbes.com. And this year, we’re ranked 79th worst in the world, according to mapping and travel service TomTom. Drivers in the DMV waste about 75 hours a year in traffic. At the height of rush hour, it takes us almost double the time to get anywhere!
Who is most affected?
Everybody! It doesn’t just affect commuters. Time wasted in traffic indirectly affects small/mid-sized businesses, large corporations, families, the federal government, local municipalities, and causes undue stress on everyone involved.
What can we do to resolve this?
Many solutions are needed, amongst those are strategically placed signage, increasing effectiveness of public transportation, better connectivity of major (and minor) routes, decreasing bottleneck areas that cause backups, and transit-oriented development in underserved areas.
There is no one solution. Lots of solutions need to be deployed simultaneously to make a real difference. It’s time for D.C., Maryland, and Virginia’s politicians to make decreasing traffic congestion a real priority – to partner with each other to decide on what is feasible, raise the money, and execute the plan (in a decent amount of time).
The Washington Post recently asked my DREAM question in a survey poll: What Would Fix Your Commute? There are so many possibilities here, I can barely function!
Three things I would do to fix my commute:
(1) A Shorter Commute
I would definitely make it shorter — instead of it taking 40-45 minutes, it would take less than half of that — 15-20 minutes.
(2) A Consistent Commute
This commute would be a consistent 15-20 minutes so I don’t have that sense of dread that often compels me to “step on it” (even when I’m not running late) just in case I run into a monster traffic jam only one or two miles from my destination.
(3) A Budget-Friendly Commute
My desired commute would not cost an arm and a leg. Sure, I understand the idea behind congestion-based pricing, but let’s be real here. If I don’t have to pay more, I don’t want to!
If you take the poll I mentioned earlier, they may share the results at a day-long planning event on Oct. 21 called “Fix My Commute.” At the event, various experts and advocates will gather to discuss solutions to our area’s commuting problems.
So…what would fix your commute? Feel free to share your insights right here!
You’ve seen it a million times: (and you’ve probably shaken your head at) the multicar pileup in the left lane. Most likely, it is because a slow driver is stubbornly refusing to yield to others who would like to drive faster. This always leads to driver frustration, worsened traffic jams, and — at the extreme end — road rage.
And, it has sparked a new trend — towards penalizing slow drivers for not yielding. Maryland lawmakers are proposing a House Bill that reserves the left lane for passing only, except in certain conditions, thereby making it illegal to impede the flow of highway traffic in the left lane.
The upside to this bill is that, if regularly enforced, it would foster needed change in the D.C.-Baltimore metro area’s driving culture. Local lawmakers are finally recognizing the benefits of promoting Lane Courtesy. “What’s that,” you say? Click on this link to find out what Lane Courtesy is.
Virginia is also considering a similar law, going as far as to explicitly state, “No person shall drive a motor vehicle…at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.”
Other states already have Lane Courtesy laws on their books and do enforce them. Find out if yours is one of them.
June is Lane Courtesy month. If you’re sick and tired of others impeding traffic for no apparent reason, why not urge the lawmakers from MD and VA to provide stronger support for these bills to ensure that they become law?
This year, we have been barraged with potholes due to all the extreme winter weather. These potholes not only drive us crazy because they keep our wheel alignments hopelessly out of whack, but there are so many of them that they are almost impossible to avoid!
Some unfortunate souls have even experienced tire blowouts or worse because of these nuisances. You may be able to get the city/county to pay for the damage if you make a claim.
It could take a while to fix them all, so we’ll have to exercise some patience (and maybe just put an extra wheel alignment in the budget for the next couple of months). Feel free to vent about your personal experiences or ones you’ve witnessed in the comments section.
To aid the entire effort, please see some online resources you can use to report those nasty, pesky, awful potholes. When filing your report, please provide the precise location, a picture (if possible), and the severity of the potholes.
Vaya con Dios!
Maryland (State Highway Administration)
If the road is a numbered route such as Rte. 355, 117, please contact Maryland State Highway at 301-513-7300. You can also fill out an online request.
See Maryland State Highway Administration above. You can also call the County at 240-777-0311 or 311 if you are calling from within the county. Or fill out an online request.
Prince George’s County
See Maryland State Highway Administration above. To report a pothole on a County maintained road, please call 301-499-8520 or fill out an online request.
Baltimore City (BCDOT)
Anne Arundel County
Call the Pothole Hotline: (410) 222-7045 or your appropriate road district. Road districts are open from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. You may also report a pothole by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To report any road maintenance issues, you can call 1-800-FOR-ROAD (1-800-367-7623), call 703-383-8368, or fill out an online request.
If there’s a pothole on a road you know is maintained by the county, then contact 703-877-2800 or see VDOT above.
Today, another driver flashed their lights to warn me of a speed trap. This really surprised me and got me thinking, “when was the last time another driver warned me of a speed trap?” And, I honestly couldn’t think of the last time!
That’s really bad. What happened?? Just ten years ago, I remember frequently encountering headlight flashing from fellow motorists trying to prevent others from getting speeding tickets. But, the past few years? Zip…nada…nothing!
Perhaps people have become afraid to do this out of fear of retaliation from the police? To a certain extent, I don’t blame them. There have been real cases of good Samaritans who have been actually been arrested for warning other drivers. Yep. Sad, but true.
Many people agree that this practice is not ethical or moral. Especially since, these days, it seems the speed trap’s sole purpose is to raise revenue for states, cities, and local municipalities rather than maintain everyone’s safety.
And now, thanks to a U.S. District Court Judge, it’s not legal, either. This judge ruled that flashing lights to warn other drivers of speedtraps is free speech, protected under the First Amendment.
Hurray for the federal protection of good Samaritans! Now that that’s over…let’s get back to warning each other.
Readers, I’m going to share with you a message that I sent to AAA spokesperson John Townsend on March 20 in reaction to his comments about a shocking ticket-issuing. Some of you may agree, some may disagree. But I need to put this out there because sentiments are high on both sides, and I want to know what you think. Let’s continue this dialog. Please see below:
Greetings! I politely disagree with your comments in this news story that this ticket is sending the wrong message to the public.
I think it’s sending exactly THE RIGHT message — one that we should have been sending for a very long time now — that it is completely unacceptable to impede traffic in the left lane.
Too much emphasis is on the fact that the lady was adhering to the speed limit and shouldn’t have been given a ticket. I’ll give that she was not exceeding the speed limit (I will come back to this in a minute). But, she was also impeding the flow of traffic, which is a much worse offense. The main reason is that it incites road rage — guaranteed every time. Drivers get very aggressive and start to jockey for position to go around her, which has the potential to cause many horrible/fatal accidents. Her actions were disturbing to what would ordinarily be a calm driving environment. Her actions created a hostile atmosphere that put everybody around in real danger. THIS KIND OF RECKLESS DRIVING IS THE REAL CAUSE OF TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS, NOT NECESSARILY DRIVING FASTER. Realizing this, AAA should support and speak out in defense of driving habits that are safe, not incitable.
Coming back to the point I was making earlier, the real problem is that we have traffic laws that are totally contradictory in this country. On one hand, we have laws that permit and encourage officers to issue tickets for “speeding” because “speeding” has been demonized and oversimplified as “dangerous driving.” To support this, people drive the speed limit in all lanes and feel justified in doing so — after all, they are just obeying the law. On the other hand, we have always been taught that the left lane(s) should be preserved for those who are passing all traffic on the right. In order to obey this law, you will have to surpass the speed limit. Further, we also have laws that permit officers to issue tickets when drivers are impeding the flow of traffic. These contradictions make the whole ding dang proposition flawed! Who should be considered right under any of these circumstances???
To drive on certain European highways, drivers are required to take more classes to handle their cars SAFELY. They are trained to be better drivers, not simply penalized for driving faster. They support the mantra that highways were built to move people/goods in the most expedient way possible, so the unhindered flow is maintained by always urging slower traffic to keep to the right, regardless of speed. Consequently, there really is no speed limit. But they do have an advisory speed limit. European authorities are also more enlightened in that they realize the term “reckless driving” should be assigned to someone who is carelessly driving, not merely driving faster. You can adhere to lower speed limits and still kill/harm people due to inexperience and driving in ways that disregard the safety of all who are around! Hello, cellphones!
By saying this, however, please note I am not saying that higher speeds are not a contributing factor to worse accidents. I am also not saying that there should be no speed limits on U.S. highways. I am simply saying that U.S. authorities are causing major problems because they are contradicting themselves, oversimpifying the issue, and encouraging worsened traffic congestion by en/forcing everybody to drive slower because of lower highway speed limits. The focus on speed has been all wrong for too long! And the problem has gotten worse as populations have increased!
Rather than saying this ticket issuing sends the wrong message, how about looking at this using the Europeans’ model, which would argue that this woman’s actions were reckless and inconsiderate to all the other drivers on the road. And, if she wanted to drive slower to feel safer, she should just keep to the right. The solution to this problem is higher quality, continued driver training and enforcing the law that “slower traffic keep right” on our highways instead of issuing tickets to and demonizing those who are just trying to expediently get from Point A to Point B.
By the way, I am a Premium AAA member, I maintain a blog that discusses these and similar issues, and I passionately advocate for expedient travel that gets everyone from Point A to Point B SAFELY.
Nneka Jenkins (trafficfrustrationblog.com)
As of the writing of this blogpost, Mr. Townsend has not responded to this letter.