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Dulles Road Rage

This morning we have two delightful articles about something that dominates millions of hours of our time every day here in the National Capital Region -- driving to and from work. Reporter Eric M. Weiss, who has mastered the bizarre road politics of Northern Virginia, reveals the secret of those who use the Dulles Airport express lanes to avoid the Toll Road. And Shankar Vedantam, in his marvelous Department of Human Behavior column, reports on a study that says automobiles with lots of bumper stickers contain drivers more inclined to aggressive behavior than less-festooned vehicles.

A little history. The Dulles Access Road was built when Dulles was miles from civilization to make it easy for people to get to the airport and was restricted to that use. The Dulles Toll Road was built in the same right of way, after the Tysons-Dulles corridor began to expand into the economic hub of Northern Virginia. If you're not going to or from the airport but just trying to get a much faster (and toll-free) ride, you're breaking the law if you use the access road. But if you stop inside the airport property and buy a cup coffee at the gas station and keep the receipt, you have proof of having done airport business.

Several of our readers who comment are not pleased that Weiss has revealed their little secret of how to get around the rules. Others rail at the stupidity of the dual road system. Some suggest that it's ridiculous that land use policies (and once, it seems like years ago, cheap gasoline) made it possible to live way out there in Purcellville and commute to Alexandria. Others make the righteous urban center argument that people should move into the city, etc.

As for the bumper sticker study, our readers mostly throw bumper-sticker quality insults at each other, as might happen if they were tied up in Dulles Toll Road traffic. Is this a great country, or what?

We'll start with the toll-roll avoidance plan comments and Paddy1, who wrote, "Thanks again WaPo for giving scofflaws a "roadmap" to inconvenience airport travelers, the intended beneficiaries of the access road. Backtrackers are cheaters, pure and simple. How about integrity or getting up earlier to get to work on time."

1fasthoo asked, "This is now newsworthy? I made my first 'Dulles stops' around 1989... How about an article on something important?"

asteroth said, "I'm not at all surprised. Politicians play games rather then fix the traffic problems, so of course people will look for any way they can find to improve their commute."

pentagon40 wrote, "...for once loopholes work for the little guy..."

BlueTwo1 said, "Not surprising given the clever nature of human beings. It is a pity such cleverness does not extend to the geniuses who approve extending the tax base by permitting residential development without considering the way thousands of additional commuters will burden unwidened roads..."

And john0071 asked, "Why are we picking on commuters and why not the policy makers for providing us limited roads with higher tolls and higher gas prices... What is our government's responsibility and what is ours? We have to start asking the right questions."

applebtr said, "Thanks for giving away a secret some of us have been using for years."

And fairfaxvoter asked, "Why does the Post periodically take some harmless, legal local shortcut like this and ruin it for everyone? I have never been near there or done this, but it hardly seems worth a story..."

Now we turn our attention to bumper stickers and whether their existence warns us that the drivers of those vehicles might be inclined to aggression.

4misfits argued that "...the bumper sticker correlates with an assertive personality. Rather than the sticker changing how the driver sees public space, an individual who uses stickers is a provocative person..."

TheodoreRoosevelt asserted that, "...the dangerous drivers are liberals hands down. Not many Conservatives sport bumper stickers beyond who we might vote for..."

jhbyer responded, "TheodoreRoosevelt, are you serious? What part of the country do you live in? In the South the conservative bumper stickers hugely predominate."

To which Theodore Roosevelt answered, "Nope California, the opposite of wherever you are lol..."

Dipsy said, "...When I see a Bush/Cheney sticker on a car in front of me I want to flip the driver a bird straight away!!!!"

profco offered, "...I find that the worst drivers are the ones with religious bumper stickers or religious symbols on their rear view mirror, dashboard or on the outside of their car. Their attitude seems to be that because they answer to "a Higher Authority" and don't need to signal before they change lanes or turn, stop at red lights or stop signs, or obey any of the other earthly rules intended for the rest of us..."

katem2 said, "Actually a very interesting sociological study; I have a bumper sticker or two..... but most of my aggression has so far been verbal (inside the car). I do have hostility toward idiot drivers though..."

srowe wrote, "Some study. The conclusion could as well have been that people without bumper stickers are slow-thinking nitwits. I use any clue to devine the intentions of the others with whom I must share the road. Mid-eighties minivan? Watch out, mo money, no brakes, maybe half drunk. Ford Victoria? Watch out, they're probably sensory-impaired geezers..."

philwdc said, "Ok, bumper stickers may, or may not be an indicator of potentially aggressive behavior behind the wheel, but what I want to know is what the idiot who is ignoring green lights, blocking the passing lane, window shopping from their car, etc., is actually thinking (if they are thinking?)..."

And we'll give the last word to timscanlon, who wrote, "It's so not worth it to get angry over driving problems."

All comments on the Dulles Toll Road avoidance plan are here.

All comments on the bumper sticker study are here.


By Doug Feaver  |  June 16, 2008; 9:25 AM ET
Categories:  Commuting  
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Next: McCain, Obama and the Rights of Terrorists

Comments

Posted by: dfgfdgfsd | June 20, 2008 4:27 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: sdfadsfs | June 20, 2008 4:21 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: dfgfdgfd | June 20, 2008 4:20 AM | Report abuse

Commenting on comments? I am getting a headache.

Posted by: Karl | June 18, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

People who don't put bumper stickers on their cars are vain, opinionless, spineless consumers.

Posted by: ClintJCL | June 17, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

So when are all us commuters going to wise-up and say no to paying the tolls? It should be the airport traveler who pays the toll anyway. The toll booths add hours to our commute every day..we sit there with our cars burning fuel, for which we pay through the nose, all the while adding that much more pollution to the air. I say this Friday, we all just blow right on through that toll booth. What are they going to do, arrest all of us? Let's show them who's really in charge!

Posted by: FredF | June 17, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Highest percentage of bumper sticker posters are white trash. So, study shows white trash people don't behave? DUH!

Posted by: Bob C | June 17, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

only dorky people in dorky cars put bumper stickers on their cars.........you never see a bumper sticker on a Corvette or Ferrari!

Posted by: COOL GUY---COOL CAR | June 17, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

only dorky people in dorky cars put bumper stickers on their cars.........you never see a bumper sticker on a Corvette or Ferrari!

Posted by: COOL GUY---COOL CAR | June 17, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

I hope Marc Copeland and D.B. Smit is having a good laugh over this. There is something known as the "Coleman Decision" as to what is airport business and what isn't. Getting a cup of coffee at the Exxon or a tank of gas doesn't qualify, even though the land is leased from the Airport Authority. Go figure. We need a Governor with guts enough to widen I-66 with ten lanes on each side and the same with the Dulles Toll Road, not give things away to the Washington Metropolitan Airport Authority. Richmond is out of touch with NOVA's traffic needs and although we provide a "Lion's share" of the gas revenue the sooner we secede from Richmond and form a new state, the better off we'll all be.

Posted by: Steve M. | June 16, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh, please. We have been watching Wall Street traders manipulate the price of oil and other eneergy products to unthinkable levels. It is *exact;ly* the same scam that Enron played with, in many cases, the exact same players! We see a President and Preident in Charge Of Vice lying, getting us into a diasasterous war for no good reason. Crdit card companies routinely cheat us out of thousands of dollars. Likewise our mortgage company. Our cell phone provider can secretly sign us up for new, endly services, and charges us flat out obscene fees to cancel service with them...fees that they know they cannot legally stick the government with (so why us?). The courts decide for corporations, who bleed people dry when they seek any sort of redresss. And YOU, silly fools, have the gaul to blather about someone not paying for a toll road fee? What I cannot understand is why *every* Amercian doesn't undertake wholesale theft. The proof is all around us, crime does pay, and the bigger the fraud the more likely you are to get off scot free. So cheat business, the government, the wealthy, hurt them in any way you can, replay the French Revolution (whch we so accurately resemble) and chop off a few heads. Anarchy holds sway and honesty and "patriotism" is for fools.

Posted by: MikeB | June 16, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

So what is this, like a meta-comment?
Posted by: C | June 16, 2008 12:54 PM

=======================================

Heh-heh :)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 16, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

So what is this, like a meta-comment?

Posted by: C | June 16, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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