Delegate Wants Hybrids to Keep HOV Exemption (2024)

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I will be introducing a bill in the 2006 session of the Virginia General Assembly to extend the exemption for hybrid vehicles using the HOV lanes.

A bill I introduced several years ago put the current exemption in place.

Please encourage your readers to write to their delegates and senators asking them to vote for my bill.

I hope the legislature follows your advice that we extend the exemption and crack down on the cheaters.

Del. Kenneth R. Plum (D-Reston)

I'm wishing you well. Hybrid owners who want to see the exemption extended should contact their state delegate or senator.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My carpool has observed HOV users on Interstate 395 between Springfield and Washington over the past year or so. Contrary to current opinion, the ratio of single-passenger hybrids to cheaters is about 20 to 1.


If you throw in motorcycles and "emergency" vehicles, apparently defined as anybody with a light on their dashboard and/or more than one antenna, the ratio is much greater.

There have been carpool trips in which the cluster of vehicles we were traveling with contained no other conventional carpools. We were surrounded by hybrids, cops and motorcycles.

Tim Murray


That is contrary to popular opinion. The letters I get have violators outnumbering hybrids. Violators have been the major cause of congestion in HOV lanes for years.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In the past few months you have run numerous letters concerning the legal use of the HOV lanes by hybrid cars. I would like to add a comment on the possible extension of the hybrid exemption, considering the large number of hybrid models (and large-horsepower configurations) that will be available in the next year or so.


California recently enacted a law that allows hybrids in its HOV lanes -- but with an interesting twist. Not only does the car have to be a hybrid, but it must also get at least 45 miles per gallon and meet strict emission standards.

Bill Reidy


Roadside Sobriety Tests

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am a volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and have spent many hours observing local DUI checkpoints. I had to laugh at the writer who was complaining about being unable to do the one-legged stand even when sober.

The one-legged stand is not easy to do; however, it is but one tool used to observe a suspected impaired driver.

When a driver is pulled over for a traffic violation, alcohol use can be easily detected by smell and observation. A driver will be asked to perform the field sobriety tests -- on level ground -- and is always asked if there is any physical reason the tests cannot be performed. Shoes can be removed during the tests.


If the driver fails the field sobriety tests, he or she will be asked to blow into the breathalyzer equipment.

I suggest that no one should refuse because, if the driver failed the field tests due only to awkwardness or fear, the breathalyzer will show that they are not legally impaired.

If they are not legally impaired, the driver will go home. And if the breathalyzer shows that the driver is, in fact, legally impaired, the driver will be arrested and removed from the road.

I have seen checkpoints with as many as 22 arrests. I believe that most of us are glad that impaired drivers are taken off the roads before they kill or hurt someone.

Leslie Thomas


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In response to the reader from Annapolis who believes the one-legged stand is an unrealistic test in determining driver impairment [Dr. Gridlock, Dec. 8], I offer the following perspective.


The one-legged stand test is part of a standardized battery of three tests used by law enforcement for more then 20 years to gauge a driver's level of alcohol impairment.

The battery has been validated to be both accurate and reliable 91 percent of the time. Courts in this area and across the nation have determined that the tests are sufficiently reliable to be admitted into evidence.

Alone, the one-legged stand test has a reliability of 83 percent. However, if a driver is physically impaired, or even claims to be; is significantly overweight; or certain other conditions are present -- such as related to age, type of footwear and roadway or shoulder surface -- that might influence the one-legged stand, then the officer may choose not to conduct the test.

But, more important, a police officer makes a decision to arrest for DWI based on the "totality of circ*mstances" and not on the results of a single test, or a single part of a specific test.


Officers must look to all factors and indicators when looking for probable cause to arrest a driver for impairment. Those include driving behavior, speech, motor skills and other factors based on the situation at hand.

Over the last 25 years, DWI arrests have become increasingly technical and complicated. They are, in fact, one of the most complicated types of cases an officer handles.

Capt. J.F. Bowman

Commander, Traffic Division

Fairfax County Police

Thanks for the clarification. I find myself wondering this: If the breathalyzer is the definitive test to determine drunken driving, why not administer that first and do away with the more subjective one-legged stand and other field sobriety measurements?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I've never been caught in one of those sobriety tests. I very seldom drink, but if I did, I wouldn't drive.


I have thought how unfair some of those tests are. I also cannot stand on one foot for 10 seconds, and how many people can recite the alphabet backward sober? Try it!

Bettie Pell


Reconfiguring Metro

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

You asked for comments on the proposed new Metrorail car configurations.

* More people will be able to board a car, but rider comfort will decrease and irritation increase.

* I ride the Orange Line from West Falls Church. During rush hours, that is often the last stop at which people can find a seat. Fewer seats would mean that everyone boarding at and after Dunn Loring would have to stand all the way to the District. That can take 30 minutes.

* Non-rush-hour riders should have a chance to sit down and read their newspapers.

* If I have to stand up, I do not want to hold an overhead rail or handgrip because my arm gets numb.


* It is okay to remove the vertical poles near the doors, but leave at least one. I want something to grab hold of when the train lurches.

* Seat-to-ceiling poles should be useful.

* Do not eliminate the windscreens near the doors. They don't impede access, and they do block cold winds.

* Riders going only one or two stops are not going to move to the center of a crowded car. Give them a break.

* If reconfigured higher-capacity cars must be used, put them only where absolutely needed, and only if the trains are eight cars long.

Bill Doole


Left-Turn Creep

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am writing about creeping into intersections to make a left turn.

First of all, the turning drivers are playing chicken when they turn on a yellow light because they don't really know whether the oncoming traffic will stop.


Left-turn creep also leads to unnecessary backups if the turning drivers are left in the middle of intersections when the crossing traffic gets the green light.

While safe at times, entering the middle of an intersection on a yield-on-green light should not be taught. I like your column, but I've got to say you're wrong on this one.

John deMello


It's okay to disagree. I think the lead car in a line of cars turning left should creep into the intersection and make the left when oncoming traffic permits, or when oncoming traffic comes to a halt for a red light. That should be an easy, safe maneuver.

Share Our Roads

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

When will the people living in Clifton stop complaining about commuter traffic? Do they realize that they don't own the roads we travel on, but we taxpayers do?

They should also think about the fact that when they commute or do their errands, they too are traveling on roads going through someone else's neighborhood.

Instead of putting up rude and childish signs on their properties telling the commuters to "Get Out" of their neighborhood, they should use their time to write their local officials and ask for more funding for better roads.

Traffic is getting worse every day, and we all need to learn to share the roads.

Russ Carpenter


Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in The Extra and Sunday in the Metro section. You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers.

Delegate Wants Hybrids to Keep HOV Exemption (2024)
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