People in Boston seem to have a reputation for driving like crazy people. After living here for about 1.5 years, I’d say that the drivers are less on the crazy side; rather, driving is governed by a particular and unspoken set of rules that might not be readily apparent. Of course, there are horrible drivers here, as everywhere, but this list might help you navigate the majority of driving situations.
1. Yes, we drive fast. Just go with traffic, even if that means going quite a bit over the speed limit. If you don’t drive with traffic, you’ll be forcing people to brake behind you, bunching up cars and potentially causing a hazard. And if you just absolutely refuse to go with the flow, at least have the courtesy of moving to the far right lane.
2. Yield signs really mean “alternate merge”. If you stop completely, there’s no way you’ll be able to merge smoothly into traffic. This alternate merge is rather strictly enforced, so just because the car that you’re trying to merge in is right on your bumper, it doesn’t mean they won’t let you in – they just don’t want to let you and the next 4 cars in.
3. Bostonians can’t merge at speed. Whether it’s the bad road design, congestion, or some other factor, the odds of cars merging seamlessly at speed is very, very low.
4. We also tend to tailgate; 2 car lengths is acceptable, 1 is often the norm, and hey, don’t worry about us, worry about the guy in front of you who just decided to brake.
5. When the car ahead of you goes, you go; when they brake, you brake. This lets the entire (often very long) line move in unison, preventing large gaps. Also, don’t be a nervous braker, constantly tapping the brakes. Just because the lane next to you slowed down doesn’t mean you have to. Relax. Learn to coast. Embrace the magic.
6. We don’t swerve in and out of lanes. The traffic goes on for miles, so pick a lane and work it. Follow the car ahead of you, and if you must switch lanes, pick one – don’t treat the drive as a slalom.