Safety Tips for Driving and Walking in Boston

Boston is an active city that is pedestrian friendly, full of recreational activities, and a commercial hub. Whether you live, play, or work here, knowing how to travel safely is one of the best ways you can protect yourself from accidental injury. Every city has its quirks and must-know things about traveling, so here are some of the best walking and driving tips for our city:

Driving in Boston

Central Boston is a high-traffic place. The narrow, winding streets are full of drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists trying to claim the same small spaces. Boston pedestrians are notorious for jaywalking and may step right into traffic without a second thought. For unprepared drivers, driving in Boston can be overwhelming. Here is what you need to remember to stay safe:

  • Avoid driving when possible. Boston has a good subway system and reliable cab services that are often just as convenient for commuters and visitors alike.
  • Follow the rules of the road. You may have noticed that some Boston drivers follow the rules of the road while others believe yellow means “speed up!” Stay safe on the roads, and keep pedestrians safe by using caution and following street signs all the time.
  • Use extra caution in roundabouts. There are a fair amount of rotaries in Massachusetts in general. Although many have traffic signals now, always watch out for others who may not understand the concept, and use caution instead of pulling out and assuming other drivers will notice you.
  • Prepare for vehicles that do not use turn signals. Boston residents tend to use turn signals in case of an emergency rather than to signal a turn. While this is an inappropriate use of the signal, you may find many vehicles turn or cut across traffic without signaling. Use good judgement, and be prepared to slam on the brakes or accommodate these individuals as needed.

Walking in Boston

Boston is known for being a pedestrian-friendly city. The beautiful downtown area and walking paths are great for a weekend stroll or as part of a healthy commuting initiative. It can also be a dangerous place to walk with streets congested with cars, bicycles, and other pedestrians.

  • Avoid jaywalking. Even though everyone does it, you can be ticketed for it, and it is not a safe practice. Wait at the light and use common sense before crossing any street. Look both ways instead of relying completely on a light change.
  • Wear reflective clothing at night. Nighttime in Boston can be just as busy as the daytime. If you are walking in dimly lit areas, wear reflective clothing, carry a flashlight, and try to make eye contact with drivers.
  • Always look at your surroundings. Drivers are supposed to watch out for pedestrians, but that is not a guarantee. Always keep an eye on your surroundings, and watch for parked cars that may be leaving their parking spot.
  • Walk on sidewalks where possible. If you cannot walk on a sidewalk somewhere in the city, walk so you are facing oncoming traffic. Use extra caution when crossing driveways and entrances, because drivers may not be paying attention to pedestrians around those areas.
  • Watch out for walking hazards. Like other major cities, Boston is old and full of broken and uneven walking areas. Recognize obstacles in your path to avoid tripping and falling on your walk. You may also run into dog and horse poop that has not been cleaned up.

Boston is a great city for walking and a doable city for driving. Make the most of your driving or walking experience here by using common sense and following the rules of the road. As with every city, the driving and walking pace varies with the culture. With a few hours of practice, you’ll be walking and driving like a true (safe!) Bostonian.

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