There's Nothing Right About a Boston Left

Friday, August 19, 2011

I blogged yesterday about my New England driving woes, among them "sneaky left turns" - local drivers' habit of turning left in front of oncoming traffic as soon as the light turns from red to green. I thought I'd just encountered more than my fair share of rudeness on New Hampshire roads, but the post led to an incredible revelation: THE BOSTON LEFT IS AN ACTUAL THING.

Also known as a Pittsburgh Left, the Boston left is "a colloquial term for the driving practice of the first left-turning vehicle taking precedence over vehicles going straight through an intersection ... It is an illegal and controversial practice." (Yeah, I got that definition from Wikipedia. So sue me, this isn't a graded term paper.)

Conversation about the Boston Left on Twitter proved that it is controversial indeed. I'm told this is "common courtesy" in many places - not just New England or Pittsburgh. (As a Clevelander at heart, I like to pretend Pittsburgh doesn't exist, & that, if it does, it's backward as hell anyway, so for the purposes of this post, I shall ignore Pittsburgh.) (Except for the photo.) (Sorry, yinz.)  A fellow Ohioan even told me that it's so common in her part of the great Buckeye State that she'd never realized people don't do it!

Needless to say, I'm shocked. I am, quite clearly, up in arms about the concept of the Boston Left, & I have a lot of questions. Among them: How did this come about? Am I actually a jerk for following the rules of the road & honking at the people who sneak in left turns just as I'm about to propel myself legally forward? Do New Englanders recognize that this driving method is unique to them, or do they employ this practice when driving elsewhere, too? Is it taught in drivers' ed? If a left-turner causes an accident while observing the "common courtesy" of the Boston Left, who's at fault?

In closing, doesn't anyone else think this is nuts?

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