The Worst Drivers in the World Live in Boston
What rhymes with “Masshole”?
Make no mistake, people of the road: The drivers in Boston are the worst drivers in the world. You may take issue with this. You may say, “Hey, Mike, there’s no way Boston drivers are worse than the drivers in Manila. Remember what happened to you in Manila?” I remember, bubba: I was hit by three different cars three times over the course of a 20-minute motorcycle ride.
Boston drivers are worse than drivers in Manila.
Bostonians are also worse than the drivers in Hanoi, Vietnam, where there is no left or right side of the street. People just start their cars and… go. I’ve driven in Hanoi and tangled with that terrifying system-of-no-system. Hanoi requires a leap of faith, a belief that there is a powerful and tangible beauty in all that chaos, and if you stick around long enough you are rewarded with the reassurance that the messiness of life is worthwhile.
To find the beauty among Boston drivers, you need to get rid of the Boston drivers. There is no other reward.
So why are they like this? What happened to them to make Bostonians, when they get behind the wheels of cars, into animals—and not the good kind of animals. They are beasts, swine, unseeing brutes. They are awash in a slop of toxic entitlement. They possess an obvious deficit of civility and physical capability. They drive surly, they drive badly. If it were possible to drive with sarcasm, they would do that too.
The numbers support my seething prejudice: Bostonians rank dead last in the annual America’s Best Driver’s Report (200th in 2015; 199th in 2014), a set of statistics gathered by insurance giant Allstate, which makes them the Worst Drivers. The report discovered that Boston drivers enjoy the least amount time between car accidents, and they have the highest “Relative Accident Likelihood” in the land.
Truthfully, the numbers aren’t the most important metric in judging the loathsomeness of Boston drivers. I’m a New Hampshire native, so by nature I dislike Massachussettians because they dirty our lakes in the summer and puke on our ski lodge floors in the winter. But I’ve lived for the past 19 years in Brooklyn—not a home for delicate sensibilities. I’m now very accustomed to aggressive driving and car-to-car contact. New York streets are a tangled experiment in Darwinian order driven by one simple rule: you snooze, you lose—and sometimes you lose big. However, NYC drivers observe a majority decorum; we are assholes, but we live by rules that allow a narrow gap through which kindness may sometimes leak. To close this gap is to let madness prevail.
In Boston, madness prevails. Over the Christmas break, I went to Marblehead, a quaint bedroom community on Boston’s north shore. Marblehead is a dense and picturesque seaside village. It is next to Salem (where the burning of suspected witches is the primary industry), as well as Swampscott, Peabody and Lynn (notable mostly for rhyming with the word sin).
Marblehead is the upper class town among them, home to financiers, robber barons, brahmins, et al, who commute into Boston in Benzes and Lexuses and Grand Cherokees. My brother lives in Boston and drives a BMW 335i on a 3-hour roundtrip commute to his downtown Boston office every day.
I was there visiting him and his lovely family, who are neither beasts nor swine, but now I wonder about their driving. My 2016 Chevy Tahoe was packed with children and snacks, and I had commenced a bracing 5-mile drive through these towns to I-95 in a traffic bloodbath that might as well have been directed by Tobe Hooper. Pleasant-looking soccer moms dive-bombed from all sides in Explorers and Mercedes GLs. Red lights were run by Camrys. Minute courtesies are taken advantage of with an egregiousness typically found in toddlers and felons.
By the time I merged onto the interstate, I was drenched in sweat. 20 minutes had passed in a violent flash. What were those creatures? I had traveled through the most rarified strata of Boston and felt like I'd been torn apart by a zombie parade.
There are worse places in the world than qaint, colonial Boston—places with high incidence of illiteracy and pediatric malnutrition, with child soldiers and uncleaned toxic dumps, with militaries run amok and despotic leaders—but there’s no other place I’d want less to drive than Beantown. How do you like them apples?