Liz Crenshaw's Guide to Consumer Issues, Recalls and More

Ask Liz: Presidential Protocol, Highway Safety & Electric Plugs

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By Liz Crenshaw and Katie Roberts
|  Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011  |  Updated 12:17 PM EDT
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Ask Liz: Presidential Protocol, Highway Safety & Electric Plugs

Ask Liz: 10-31-08

What’s the protocol for referring to the President? What's a "highway safety corridor"? And what’s the difference between a two-prong electric plug and a three-prong electric plug? It's Friday which means it's time for Ask Liz.

What’s the protocol for referring to the President? We checked with the Associated Press for this answer. The AP created a stylebook that is used as a grammar and usage guide for many news organizations, including NBC.

  • For all heads of state, the title and first and family names are required on the first reference.
  • So, this means-- it’s President Barack Obama, not just President Obama
  • On the second reference, only the last name is required.
  • However, to give the President more distinction, the word “mister” or even “President” may be used.
  • And these are normally used interchangeably so that the references don’t sound repetitive.

She says that she sees signs for a “highway safety corridor” when she drives on Interstate 81 in Virginia. She wants to know what this is? The Virginia Department of Transportation for this answer says:

  • A highway safety corridor is an area on a Virginia highway with increased enforcement and fines.
  • There are three safety corridors in Virginia: one on I-81, and the other two on I-95 in northern Virginia and the other extending north and south of Richmond.
  • Speeding fines can go up to $500 in these regions, and the program was created to reduce highway fatalities.

What’s the difference between a two-prong electric plug and a three-prong plug? We checked with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association for this answer:

  • The main difference between the two types of plugs comes down to safety concerns.
  • The first two prongs at the end of a plug are needed to get voltage across the wire.
  • However, the third prong grounds the connection and helps ensure that no one gets electrocuted in case the line voltage and metal parts in the wire accidentally come in contact with each other.
  • So although the third prong isn’t necessary for your electric device to work, it’s there to prevent electrocution.

Got a question for "Ask Liz"? Send any consumer questions to askliz@nbcwashington.com.
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