Readers Say

Here’s how readers would describe a Massachusetts driver

"We are aggressive because we have to be."

Heavy traffic leaving Boston on Interstate 93 South bound. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Stuck in traffic, driving over potholes, squeezing your car through narrow streets, and just missing jaywalking pedestrians — it’s no wonder Massachusetts drivers have been labeled “Massholes.”

We recently asked readers how they would best describe a Massachusetts driver, and the responses to our survey and on social were mixed.

Some readers acknowledged the hardships that Massachusetts drivers have to deal with. 

“Let me put it this way: There’s a hilarious image online called ‘The Intersections of Boston’ and I’m not sure that acclaimed Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen himself would know how to navigate some of those,” said reader Alex from Cambridge.


However, others were less forgiving of Massachusetts drivers.

“They’ll run you off the road for going less than 100 in a 50 zone,” read a comment to our post on Facebook.

Both are fair points. In AllSate’s annual “America’s Best Drivers Report,” which included 200 U.S. cities, Boston drivers were pegged as some of the worst drivers in the country. Boston ranked the worst-driving major city in America, in 2017, with Boston drivers almost 80% more likely to file an accident claim than the national average.

But in a more forgiving nature, one must consider the issues. For example, Boston has the fourth worst traffic in the world, according to a study from transportation analytics company INRIX. Massachusetts was also said to have some of the worst roads in the country.

Below you’ll find a sampling of reader responses sharing their best description of a Massachusetts driver. 

How readers would describe a Massachusetts driver:

“[We] shouldn’t necessarily blame the drivers themselves, but rather our egregious and very user unfriendly infrastructure. So many accidents are due to poor roadway and intersection design, rather than actual driver skills, or lack thereof.”

-Alex from Cambridge

“Aggressive, sometimes careless. I’ve lived here almost my entire life and we are just not good drivers. The traffic makes it much worse, but still no excuses. I’m traversing the Bourne bridge every day and have driven everywhere in the state as a college recruiter. It is bad.”

-Joanne R., Wareham

“Believe it or not, I’d describe the average Massachusetts driver as very good. I’ve lived all over the country as a now-retired military spouse. Everywhere I’ve lived [everyone] thinks they have the worst drivers, and in my experience, Massachusetts drivers are some of the best. They pay attention more, follow laws and common sense more than other places. They even are much more polite and patient drivers than in other places. While there are always outliers, Massachusetts drivers have me cursing less than drivers in other places, and I feel safer driving here than many other places.”

-Emily T., Attleboro

“Firstly, there is an inherent sense of entitlement and snobbery that ripples through this oldest-of-the-old-money states. This incredible wealth mixed with a snarky east coast attitude leads to the ‘you look out for me’ attitude of driving … Massachusetts intentionally creates ‘Masshole’ drivers.”

-Elizabeth J.

“I’d say Boston drivers are entitled.”

-Jamie, Marlborough

“What I witness every day is distracted drivers. People are doing everything in their cars but driving. Eating, drinking, any number of things on their cell phone, reading, digging in the back seat for something. I’ve seen it all. I even saw a guy eating cereal from a bowl with a spoon while driving on Route 3 one morning. It’s amazing that there’s not more accidents.”

-Barton S.

“I’m originally from the South, where people drive like maniacs too, only much more slowly than Mass. drivers. It’s a different kind of pain. Since moving here 20 years ago, I’ve now become afraid to drive, especially on the highway. I do it anyway, of course, but drivers here are merciless…”

-Sarah S.

“I can honestly say, without a doubt, that Massachusetts drivers are by far the worst that I’ve ever seen. The company I drive for now has me going to Boston everyday. What is with turning left in front of someone from the right lane? That’s a daily thing I’ve come to enjoy trying to prevent from happening to me. I’ve had city buses and even state police do it to me. So I guess there’s no such thing as rules of the road down there? Speed limit? What’s that? Having simple manners and waving at someone as a thank you for being kind enough to let them out into traffic on Route 1? Nah. Departing the highway from the far left lane, cutting across 4 lanes of traffic? Massachusetts drivers check them all off.”

-Jim H., Portland, Maine

“We are aggressive because we have to be. Bad roads, heavy traffic, city streets that have no patterns. I think we are actually aggressively smart. I would also say, don’t play chicken with us. If you aren’t a born and bred Massachusetts driver, you don’t have it in you to live up to your bluff and we don’t bluff.”

-A reader on Facebook

“Selfish, aggressive, confused, and often distracted. However, our roadway design and lack of clear signage and markings are a large part of why this is.”

-A reader on Facebook

 “Assertive and intentional. It’s best to drive like you know where you’re going even if you don’t.”

-A reader on Facebook

“The only law Massachusetts drivers follow is the law of gravity.”

-A reader on Facebook

“When I lived there for most of my life I always heard how bad the drivers were. I moved to Florida and found out what really bad drivers are.”

-A reader on Facebook

“Really bad. Drivers don’t yield to pedestrians 90% of the time. When it says no turn on red they plow right through. Drivers turn left from the middle lane. I live in Wellington Circle. This is the norm.”

-A reader on Facebook

“I am from Connecticut, but have lived in Boston area the last several years. Connecticut drivers are just as bad, but Boston drivers are at least aggressive in a way that makes sense and keeps things moving.”

-A reader on Facebook

“The roads are all wrong, highway exits should precede highway entrances so on-rampers and off-rampers don’t have to cross paths.”

-A reader on Facebook

“Not bad, just aggressive. I’ve seen far worse drivers down south where the rules of the road are a suggestion and I’m pretty sure drivers tests are done on a tricycle.”

-A reader on Facebook

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.