That’s what they call us…Boston Drivers.  I never think I’m a Masshole until I come home to Detroit.  I have to check myself when I get behind the wheel: You are in Detroit. The roads are straight and flat. There’s plenty of room.  People mostly follow the rules.  Leave the F Bombs at home, you won’t need them. Remain calm.

For perspective, when I am home for a week in Michigan, there are probably one or two “What the $%&@!!!” moments the entire time I am there, even if I drive several times each day.  In Boston, those moments average about one per mile.  I’m not joking.  Nor am I exaggerating.

Traffic at Fenway Park
via Metro

Part of the problem is that the roads here are crazy: curvy, hilly, confusing.  For example one intersection on my way to work allows for three different left turns from one lane.  One can make a U turn, a 135 degree turn, or a normal 90 degree turn. How’s that for confusing?  The other part of the problem is that in Boston, the Rules of the Road are mere suggestions.  Here are some classic moves…

“Turn Left in Front of Oncoming Traffic”

You know how when you need to turn left, you have to wait for oncoming traffic to clear first? Not so much here. The funny thing about this one is that sometimes it makes sense. (I know.  It’s wrong.  But when in Rome…) Here’s why: many intersections are, well, wonky.  They can be really wide, or, the street may be narrow.  In the first case, it sometimes makes sense to let the oncoming driver make their left so they don’t hold up traffic.  You can actually start to move into the intersection while they turn and never get near them. If the street is narrow, it may be better to let them turn left so you can drive straight through unimpeded; the left-turner may be taking up most of the street.  But then you have left-turners who don’t bother to yield to oncoming traffic and go when the light turns green, just because.

“Turn Left from Whatever Lane You Choose”

This is probably my favorite, and a move that I have not, and will not ever execute myself.  It’s just so incredibly asinine.  Imagine yourself sitting at a light in the left turn lane, waiting for your opportunity to turn, either courtesy of the green arrow, or an opening in oncoming traffic. But wait!  Here comes a car on your right, pulling up around you, cutting you off from making your turn!  (Insert string of profanity.) They may do one of two things: cut you off when the light changes, or slowly force their way into oncoming traffic, making the oncoming cars stop so they don’t hit the *&*^%&^%^&* driver!  I have seen up to three cars perform this move at a time.  I had an MBTA bus (that’d be a city bus) do it to me once.  I should have reported it.

To illustrate, here’s a simulation of the intersection of Blue Hill Avenue and American Legion Highway:

“The Force”

Go ahead, change lanes whether there is room for you or not. Or whether or not you bother to use your indicators…signaling is so overrated in MA.

use yah blinkah

These are just common examples of what to expect on the Boston roads.  Anything can happen on any given day.  I even had someone yell at me for not stopping in the middle of the road to let them turn in front of me.  Ridiculous.  But sometimes I’m amazed at what doesn’t even faze me anymore.

The one thing that does still faze me, is pedestrians.  And bikes.  I’m all for pedestrians having the right of way (sometimes I’m a pedestrian too), but you don’t have the right to be stupid!  You don’t walk out into traffic!  What makes you think the driver even sees you, or can stop if they do?  Same goes for bikers, they don’t seem to follow any rules.  It can be like playing Frogger.

Frogger screen

Oh!  Another thing…Boston must keep horn manufacturers in business.  If you aren’t off and running the second the light turns green, someone is going to blast their horn at you!  It used to make me jump, now I’m like, “yeah, whatever.”  Of course there is also more cause to use your horn, when someone pulls a Masshole move on you.  I have definitely used my horn more in the last 4+ years than I have in the previous 26 years of driving in Detroit!

Also, before I moved to Boston I think I ran two red lights in my life.  We’ll just leave it at that.

It boils down to this:  The rules are broken so frequently, people don’t know them anymore!

So other than my fellow drivers, the pedestrians and bikers, and the crazy streets, driving here is super easy!  It doesn’t matter…I still love you Boston!

3 thoughts on “DRIVING IN BOSTON

  1. Massholes?! Hilarious, why haven’t I heard that term before??? I also like the comparison to Frogger, so appropriate! 😉


  2. Oh my God… That beat-the-traffic left is an Eastern thing for the reason you noted: narrow, curvy roads. Back home in NE Pa., they’re quick, but here, we call it the Pittsburgh Left, and it’s dangerous. When I left home and was driving in L.A., I thought I was going to get dragged out of the car and beat to death when I did it. I still have the California habit of the pedestrian as Brahman cow. I’ve turned into a New Yorker here in a cross-walk. “EY! I’m walkin’ ‘ere!’ If a California pedestrian steps off the curb to look for the bus, everybody in both directions stops. Hit a pedestrian, lose your license. No question. Back home, we leaned on the horn. Hey wake up. Out west, mellow out, man. Pittsburgh had some really bad drivers when we moved here. I had a guy get out of the car when I blew the horn, but with all the newbies moving in, I’m no longer the first one waking up somebody at a light. Most of the time it’s a short left arrow. Honestly.


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