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Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Boston Left - Driving Col. No. 1

This week’s Traffic Stumper is the infamous “Boston Left.” Or should we say, the ambiguous Boston Left. Depending whom you ask, the Boston Left is one of two driving maneuvers.

According to “The Boston Driver’s Handbook: Wild in the Streets,” you’re making a Boston Left when you come to a T-intersection and you pull out into the right-bound side, thereby blocking traffic, while waiting for an opening in the traffic on the left-bound side. This move often involves crossing a yellow line of some sort as well as angering the drivers you’ve cut off.

Others say you’re making a Boston Left when you’re the first car in line at a red light and you gun the engine to turn left as soon as the light turns green. If you’re cutting off oncoming traffic in the process – or narrowly avoiding an accident - so be it.

No matter how you define it, you’re breaking the law, says Lt. Jack Albert, (cq) traffic commander for the Cambridge Police Department.

“The rule of thumb is you can’t block the free flow of traffic. You’re failing to yield to the oncoming vehicle, which has the right of way,” Albert says. “You should yield until you’re either signaled by the oncoming driver that he’s letting you go, or you wait until the intersection is clear.”

Albert says his officers routinely cite drivers for making Boston Lefts at the intersection of Prospect Street and Massachusetts Avenue. The fine? $35, according to state law.


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