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Editorial: Careful While Going Faster

If you have driven on the new 495 Express Lanes, you might wonder if the people who decided to raise the speed limit to 65 have driven on them. At the current prices, the Express Lanes are appealing whenever you really need to get somewhere and you have doubts about the flow of traffic.

But the first few times you drive on the Express Lanes, they are confusing. Which Tysons’ exit do I take for the Ritz Carlton? Will it be on the left or the right? When I get off, will I have to deal with a stop light, a stop sign or a merge? What on earth is the driver next to me doing?

The express lanes are not attracting as many drivers as predicted, so now there is the added incentive of being able to go faster in those lanes than on the rest of the Beltway where the speed limit is 55 even if there isn’t backed up traffic on the other lanes.

Changes July 1

Many actions of the 2013 General Assembly go into effect July 1.

Here are three things to know that kick in July 1:

  • Sales tax increases to 6 percent in Northern Virginia to help pay for transportation.

  • Texting while driving becomes a primary offense, meaning that you can be pulled over if an officer sees you using your phone or thinks you are texting because you are looking down.

  • Mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail for those repeatedly convicted of driving (or boating) under the influence. (Repeatedly in this case means the third time.)