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Welcome to (Driving in) the Jungle

Submitted by Rachel on February 24, 2011 – 2:49 pmComments

I feel like I’ve heard more complaining than usual recently about “Masshole” drivers. Probably because the whole Boston area is pretty much still buried in snow and ice, making driving in town more like an obstacle course.  To help ease your aggravation, I thought I would share some tips on this type of driving with those of you who may be boggled to see us in action.

The overall theme to being a Masshole driver is that we don’t believe in “defensive driving.” Everyone who is licensed in MA, especially the Boston area, only knows how to drive aggressively. For example:

1. Tailgating – Dual meanings here. In other parts of the country, it might mean following another vehicle too closely. Here, you should never be more than a few inches away from the bumper of the car in front of you, or someone who isn’t going anywhere nearly as important as you are may try to cut you off. And they will, given the chance. Boston drivers have no regard for blasting across three lanes of traffic if they see a six-inch opening in the lane. When Bostonians tailgate, we mean we’re sitting around drinking in a parking lot.

2. Turn Signals – Your daily horoscope is more reliable than turn signals in Boston. Half the time my road rage is related to “Nice blinker you f*^$ing dip!” incidents. Using turn signals to indicate you’re switching lanes is almost unheard of.

3. Yellow and Red Lights, & Speed Limits – Oh please, out-of-staters, this is where we need you to pay attention. In Boston, yellow lights don’t mean slow down. In fact, they mean the exact opposite – they mean speed up, beat the light, and let the car behind you beat it too. You’ve got about 3 seconds after it turns red before the light in the other direction turns green; to us, this means full speed ahead. Speed limits are just suggestions, as most MA drivers are usually going anywhere from 10 over the limit in the slow lane up to probably 30 over the limit or more in the left lane.

4.  Stop Signs, Yield, and “No Turn on Reds” – These are things we are not very good at. We may slow to a roll through a stop sign, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a MA driver come to a complete stop for 3 seconds after the ink on their driving test was dry. Yielding is similar to tailgating – we’re probably still going full speed from the ramp to the highway, and unless you’d like to crash, you’ll let us in. The rule I learned about “No Turn on Reds” is this: No Cop, No Stop.  When I said this the other day, my friend Katie informed me that in other parts of the country, they obey traffic laws as they’re written.  Pshaw to that. Bostonians believe we alone can be the judge of when it’s safe to turn. We know the law, we just don’t care. Unless a cop is looking.

5. No Left Turn, No U-Turn, and “gray areas” - Just as above, we will be the judge of where we can and cannot turn, thankyouverymuch. We’re certainly not going to drive 2 miles out of the way down the road to a designated turn around area. We’re going to gun it and bang that U-ey. Similarly, “Do you think this is legal?,” is more of a rhetorical question, as it’s going to be immediately followed by “Oh, well, I’m gonna do it anyhow.” For example, my roommates and I went out to lunch this week. My roommate was parked on the side of a main road. He went directly from being parked to banging a U-ey at 40 into the main road. Does that seem kind of dangerous? Sure. Do I recall a specific driving law about operators not U-turning into traffic at high speeds? No. So it’s fine.

Really, driving in Boston is a giant game of chicken designed to test your resolve and reaction speed. We’ll go as fast and as far as you let us. Our only fear is the dreaded police siren. But with all the cars on the road, chances are we’re not going to get pulled over most of the time, further fueling our resolve to drive wildly. Welcome to the jungle.

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