How to Drive Like You're from Boston

Since the earliest days of the automobile Bostonians have been admired and respected for their legendary driving skills. Long before the term “road rage” was invented, aggressive driving was all the rage in the hub of the universe. Driving anywhere in the country with a Massachusetts license plate on your car is fair warning to your fellow motorists to beware…a Masshole is on the loose.

So, you wonder, what are the defining characteristics of a masshole driver? How can you become a masshole driver? Don’t worry – it’s easier than you think and absolutely no practice is required!

Tip #1: Follow Right-of-Way Rules

The first rule – the mother of all rules – is that “I have the right-of-way.” This applies at all times in all situations. While other cities have different rules for different driving situations, we make it a little simpler here – the best approach is to just assume that you always have the right-of-way! Whether you’re driving, changing lanes, walking, entering a rotary or stopped at a 4-way, just assume that you have the right-of-way and go for it!

Tip #2: Use Turn Signals

Turn signals are very useful – if you like tipping your hand, idiot! Why would you ever tell the competition where you intend to go next? You might as well just put up a huge neon sign that says: “Please speed up because I’m going to change lanes soon.” Turn signals are called turn signals because they’re meant to be used while you’re turning. That way you can’t get a ticket for not signaling. In fact, you should probably learn how to casually hit the turn signal with your left hand as it’s spinning around the wheel.

Tip #3: Respect the Yellow Light

Every school child in America knows this one: green means go, red means stop and yellow means speed up. Running red lights can be dangerous, so you better haul ass during the yellow if you want to get through that intersection, pally. Hey, you got places to be.

Tip #4: Drive the Right Vehicle

People think that Bostonians are thrifty, as evidenced by the high rate of older cars in an affluent area. Wrong! In the death game of chicken that we call “Boston driving” the more expensive car always loses. Go ahead and try to cut me off Mr. New Lexus – me & my Datsun are wicked afraid of getting dinged.

Tip #5: Understand Rotaries

You may call it a traffic circle. We call it a Rotary. Technically, the right-of-way belongs to the driver already in the rotary. Realistically, the right-of-way goes to the driver with the most gumption. Did you just lift your foot off the gas? I guess that’s my invitation to cut you off!

Tip #6: Avoid Difficult Turns

Even get stuck trying to take a left onto a jam-packed road? Frustrating, isn’t it? In Boston we have a solution to this problem. It’s called “The Move” – see, if I have to wait an exceedingly long time to take my left – say 30 to 45 seconds – then I have every right to block traffic in the first lane, cause a complete meltdown of the traffic flow and force my way into the other lane. Look, I can’t wait forever.

Tip #7: Carpool

In theory, carpooling is a great idea. It saves the environment and cuts down on traffic. In the real world it’s a terrible idea. What if the carpooler wants to listen to a different radio station than I do? What if they want DD and I want Starbucks? It’s bad enough that I have to go to work – I’m certainly not sharing my ride with some (other) jerk.

Tip #8: Pay Attention

Driving is a dangerous, high-skill endeavor. That’s why you should de-stress on the road by talking on the phone, playing with the radio, text messaging, eating a bowl of cereal, doing your make-up, reading the paper, drinking coffee, playing the harp, etc. And since God gave you two hands and two knees, you can easily drive with your knees and do many of these relaxing things at the exact same time.

Tip #9: Merge Carefully

Merging requires patience and respect. Therefore, when you see a merge coming, make sure that you speed up and never let anyone else into your lane.  And that goes double if it’s raining.  Remember – you were there first AND you’re much more important than they are.

Tip #10: Share the Road

The roads are busy with cars, motorcycles, trucks, buses, cabs and bicycles. The best way to get by is to remember that cabbies are your mortal enemy and you never have to let them in front of you. Similarly, bicyclists should get off the road because they look silly in those garish spandex outfits. Busses and trucks are bigger than you, so it’s probably best to let them by.  Please note that you can safely cut off Japanese motorcycles, but you should probably let the Harleys go by – Harley drivers tend to be mean and they enjoy knife fights.

Unfortunately, we’re out of time and space here, but there are many more Boston driving tips, so please feel free to leave a comment and share your personal favorites.


If you liked this post, you’ll probably also like my guide to the MBTA, ‘Riding the Rails, Boston-style’.


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