I grew up and live in FL and I never understood why the driving was so poor. Roads are relatively straight, well marked, aside from rain, good driving conditions.
THEN–I went to Boston for my internship and lived there for four years. Now I understand. It seems in Boston they have essentially paved over the horse paths. Roads change name at random, streets are all one-way. I learned to drive aggressively. If you don’t, you become a hazard. When I wanted to get in a lane, I signalled and I went. I never waited for someone to “let” me in. If I wanted to go there, I went there. I didn’t ask. I come home to FL and my brother turns pasty white as we are driving. He asks me what the fuck am I doing, as he is concerned I will kill us or some innocent person. I tell him, I wanted to go there, so I went. Eventually, I learned how to drive like a human again.
But I go up to Boston every couple of years and you know what–I get excited when I know I have to drive there. The adrenalin rush is better than any drug I may have hypothetically experimented with in my youth.
untateve said “When I wanted to get in a lane, I signalled and I went. I never waited for someone to “let” me in. If I wanted to go there, I went there. I didn’t ask”
Great description of how to drive in Boston area traffic. Once you realize what the unwritten rules are, it’s easier to drive there than most other places in the states.
(from a 16 year veteran of Boston traffic)
I’ve driven in all 50 states and all 10 provinces of Canada, and in almost every sizable city within them (including DC, for you wiseguys who would have pointed out that it’s not in any state). I live in New York City, and trust me, I have no love for the people with whom I’m forced to share the roads. But still, Boston wins (if you call it winning) hands down. Boston is definitely the city in which I’ve had the worst combination of badly laid out streets, insane drivers, and heavy traffic.
Precisely the way to deal with cab drivers in mid-town Manhattan, especially in front of Madison Square Garden.
I still think that Bostonians are more nuts, though. My sister lived in South Weymouth for a few years and picked up the worst driving habits. I still don’t like driving with her (more than 15 years after she left Boston), either as the driver or as passenger; if I drive she gets ticked about my “lack of aggressiveness,” if she drives I get a few more gray hairs.
Outside the U.S. I’d say the French win. Last month I took a cab ride to the airport in Nice, and I thought I was on an amusement park ride: flung from side to side in the back seat, tires squealing around every curve. I think the driver was having a flashback to the Grand Prix.
I read this story in the Boston Globe. That doesn’t prove it’s true, but at least it has credentials:
On the interstates they give you a bit of grace a let you rive in the Brakedown Lne when you’re within 100 yards or so of the exit, and the road is backed up. Of course, Bostonians extend that “or so” pretty far.
One guy got a flat tire or something and was forced off the road, into the breakdown lane (hey, truth in advertising). A car was barrelling down the brakedown lane, heading for the exit. Fortunately, it saw him in time and stopped. But the driver then BLEW HIS HORN AT THE BROKEN-DOWN CAR. Imagine! Having the gall to be broken down in he Brakedown Lane!
Maybe we need to define bad driving guys. I’ve already backed up my statement with stats but then again I’m talking about an Australian city. The only validity I have is anecdotal observations and comparisons.
In Toowoomba people often go the wrong way about roundabouts. People will often turn left from the right lane (reverse for american minds) at high speed, without warning and accross traffic. In Toowoomba red lights are apparently optional (not legally of course - but it’s too common to be enforced). Indicators? Sometimes.
And recently a police officer left the keys to his cruiser in the ignition when paying for petrol. You guessed it - it got stolen and the young 15yo led the cops on a merry high speed chase in and around the CBD (he got barely a slap on the wrist being a minor).
That Reader’s digest article must be old. Phoenix has been among the top 12 metro areas for years now.
I really can only compare the Detroit area, to the Phoenix area, and Phoenix is far worse, hands down. Combine the huge amount of old people, with the young people who aren’t required to take driver’s ed (under AZ law), and you get a ton of accidents. People DO drive much faster in Detroit, but they drive more dangerously here in Phoenix, i.e, nobody knows how to drive worth squat.
I think I have to go to Boston, just to experience this phenomenon you all describe.
For a real treat, go to Mexico City and drive there for a while. Holy smokes, it’s a nightmare. Cram 30 million people in the metro area, and let them loose. The roads seriously suck, and you haven’t seen speed bumps, until you’ve been to Mexico. If you aren’t SERIOUSLY aggresive, you aren’t going anywhere. It’s truly amazing to see how those people drive down there.
I will come to the defense of Boston Drivers: they MAY be the most dangerous to outsiders, but natives get along QUITE well. I’ve been in thick, bumper-to-bumper traffic that moved at 60 miles an hour. Boston drivers are fearless, and very GOOD at driving bad. And since everyone drives the same way, it’s only dangerous if you don’t know what you are “supposed” to do.
For two places that driving is MUCH more dangerous, I submit New York and Chicago:
New York: Has the widest disparity among travel speeds I have ever seen. There seems to be a pathology here about people driving similar speeds. I swear I have run out of fingers and toes to count the times I have been on the Saw Mill Parkway, and had this situation occur: I am driving 70 mph (the road is 55) and come upon a big Cadillac (NY plates) going 45 mph. So I pull out to pass, because it looks clear, and have a Saab doing a buck-ten nearly ram me, while flashing his lights and honking his horn. It’s like New York drivers consist of two types of people: Granpas who are falsely convinced that slower is always safer, and people who drive with the gas pedal pressed to the floor for the length of the trip.
Chicago: I have never seen a larger group of dangerous and annoyingly BAD drivers as Chicago. This is for several reasons. A) No one knows how to drive in traffic. Everyone wants 20 car lengths in front of them and if they don’t have it, they stop DEAD. Traffic is at a standstill and its not even that heavy. B) Everyone is too damn timid. See point A. For the most part, timidity is dangerous, more so than agression. The most annoying practice in Chicago, which I have not seen elsewhere, is people putting on their brakes in entrance ramps. DAMN IT. They supposed to be for acceleration. You should be moving 65 miles per hour when you hit the highway, because it is SAFER. Speed up! C) No seems to know where they are going. Chicago has lots of “splits” where two major highways divide off from a single road… and NO ONE is ever in the correct lane for when this happens. It’s like 50% of the people going left are in the far right lane 100 yards from the split, and want to move over, and so they STOP with an open highway in front of them and wait for a spot to move over. Damn it, this is NOT a good idea. How about next time you plan out your moves a mile ahead of time, and MOVE INTO THE CORRECT LANE before you get there. You’ve only lived in the city your whole life, you’d THINK you’d know where you want to go!
I will take Boston Drivers over Chicago drivers any day. Boston drivers I can atleast count on being very GOOD drivers, in the sense that they know how to avoid accidents. and avoid causing traffic problems. You can be sure that while you see more inconceivably stupid moves by Bostonians, that Boston drivers are far more likely to pull off a stupid move without incedence than a Chicago driver is to drive normally and not cause a huge problem. Boston drivers may be agressive, but they are always aware of what they are doing.
Whaddya know. I come in expecting the worst and find a complement.
Those of us living in Michigan have two seasons: winter and construction. From personal experience, Detroit is pretty hectic, and you’ll get a mix of occasional 55 mph traffic with occasional 90+ mph traffic on the 70 mph expressways, but I’ve found going 73-75 on most rural expressways will let you pass a few more cars than pass you, and I’ve never been pulled over. You do have to watch for red-light runners in Grand Rapids and Detroit, though. Chicago is definitely worse than Detroit for the sheer number of cars among other things…
From a pedestrian standpoint, I found Baltimore to be a pretty scary city of drivers. In B-More, crossing a street is taking your life in your hands. Drivers there change lanes to hit pedestrians, or at least to throw a good scare into them. Yikes - nothing like hauling your ass real fast to clear the last few feet of asphalt and make it back to the safety of the sidewalk. Regularly.
On another note, I think that the scariest I have ever been as a driver was in rush hour in Manhattan once. I went into a whole different zone, out-maneuvering taxi cabs, speeding around slower traffic, I was a maniac. I had a lot of fun, but I don’t think I want to do it again.
Jackson doesn’t have the traffic to be that bad, thank god. People here just seem to think that you’ll divine where they are going and not bother with turn signals. NO ONE (except me) uses them. Turn lanes are generally obeyed, except for every third moron who turns one lane going straight into another turn lane for his benefit. Always exciting to go into one lane two abreast.
Speed. Generally, well behaved. Except for I-220. Can you say “Autobahn?” I thought you could. 12 miles of gentle curves and gently sloped highway. I’ve been passed in an IROC Z28 doing 85, on a good night. Rush hour is just that, RUSH hour. Do 65 and they plow you under. 70 and you’re in the weeds. 75 and you’re keeping up with the weaklings. I’ve never had the nerve to find out what it takes to pass people on 220.
I55 is a different story, it’s either a parking lot, or autobahn, in the space of a few miles. As the Major North South highway, it gets tons of traffic. Waterworks curve, near downtown Jackson on I55, is the site for all your wrecks. Seriously, people pick this 3 lane bidirectional curve to overheat, break down, or generally get tired and plow into someone. Bad enough it’s on a uphill slope, and there is a major onramp that dumps right into the south bound lane… But get someone to have a breakdown there and traffic will back up for miles.
I have to agree with Zion, the drivers are horrible here in the metro-Phoenix area. As a matter of fact, Arizona recently ranked 1st in the nation in fatalities due to drivers running red lights. My mother, who is from Atlanta (no driving haven itself), even gets nervous when she’s out on the road here. I swear it’s getting worse every day.
Good Grief!!! Pay attention to the Minneapolis thread over in MPSIMS, will ya? Had I known you were in town I’d have showed you around!!!
But back to the OP…
Many many many years ago my parents were watching Johnny Carson interview a truck driver who had X-million safe driving miles. When Johnny asked him the worst city to drive through his reply was St. Cloud, MN. a) there are no 4-lane, limited access highways to get through/around town; and b) it’s a farming community, which means that all these drivers are used to country roads and and small towns where turn signals are an option.
Well, I cannot claim to have driven in that many states, but in my limted experience, Boston and Kansas City.
It’s been a while since I was in Boston, and I didn’t actually drive while there, but their idea of “traffic rules” is radically different from my own. It even seems like the cops don’t care either. I remember being in Boston with a friend who was a native (this was many years ago) and we parked RIGHT in front of a sign that said “No Parking”. We asked the friend if this was really OK. He said, sure. And, sure enough - a cop walked by, didn’t care, saw us by the car, didn’t say a thing to us.
Kansas City drivers are utterly oblivious. No need to look around to see if it’s clear while merging onto the freeway - the freeway traffic ought to just get out of their way! No need to signal when turning, either. And left turns (or any turns into traffic) are not things to be done lightly - they wait until oncoming traffic is almost upon them, and then finally decide to c-r-a-w-l out to do the turn. It’s like it takes them several seconds to decide what to do, and by then it’s too late. But they do it anyway.
I’m a native Angeleno, and while LA drivers are insane, there is a “kill or be killed” mentality there that seems to generally work. Meaning - people usually are on the alert, and aware of what is going around them. (Note - usually.) And there is a degree of skill in driving. At least I think so, but maybe I’m biased.
Well, I don’t know whether or not natives are used to it, but the highways through downtown KC had me totally confused when I was there. Exit 1 has about a dozen different sub-exits (e.g., 1A, 1K, etc.) and to get onto I-29 from there was abit tricky, IIRC.
But I still love the town because I’m a Royals fan! Go Royals!
(And, as I said earlier, having had the experience, Boston still tops my list.)
Boston drivers are very aggressive (some to the point of being complete jerks), but skilled.
Drivers in northeast NJ have to be some of the most unskilled that I’ve ever seen. Lots of examples of cluelessness in rain or snow.
It seems the more rural the area is, the nicer the drivers are…in New England at least.
I have found that the worst drivers in the world follow me wherever I go. I, of course, am an exceptional driver. And anyone who gets my way is a goddamn idiot, and anyone passing me is a friggin’ maniac (apolgies to G. Carlin).
However, Boston does have the worst reputation that I can think of. In New England, drivers with Massachusetts plates found anywhere outside of Massachusetts, are fondly referred to as “MassHoles”.