Photo cred - Doug
Driving in Montreal is not for the faint of heart for many reasons. A maze of one-way streets and dead ends, construction zones and potholes, crumbling bridges and collapsing tunnels, legendary traffic congestion and severe lack of parking spots… The list goes on, and it’s a wonder anyone even has a car here in the first place.
But by far the scariest thing you will encounter on the roads in this city is the other vehicles, because Montreal seriously has some of the most aggressive drivers in the country.
Really though. They might be incredibly warm and welcoming people, but you put a Montrealer behind the wheel, and they will quickly turn into a speed-racing, horn-blasting, sacre-spewing maniac. Because in this game of survival in the fast lane, you can’t afford to show signs of weakness.
Photo Cred - Garrett Meiers
Using signal lights is the ultimate sign of weakness. Warning others of your next move gives away your tactical advantage in the race to commuter supremacy, and especially when changing lanes, it is best to keep your driving strategy to yourself. Otherwise you’re just asking for buddy to pull up and close the gap that you’re trying to get in to.
Photo cred - Diane Aldrich
Although some people around here are armed with water pistols, the horn is the most important tool in your road survival kit. Use it to tell the guy ahead of you to get a fucking move on when he doesn’t the instant the light changes. Honking before the even light changes will establish you as the dominant one. Tossing a passive-aggressive bleep at someone pulling out of a parking spot when you’re going twice the
speed limit implied speed minimum also works to warn those weaker than you to stay the fuck outta your way.
When you’re in the middle of your daily dose of Décarie congestion (WHO THE FVCK MADE THIS CITY?!), you can lean both forearms on the horn to make your car wail like a wounded animal. Not only will this make the other cars on the road move faster, it definitely makes you feel better about HOW FREAKING INFURIATING IT IS that those cars had THE NERVE to stop all around you and throw off your WHOLE DAMN DAY.
Photo cred - Global
Oh, and don’t forget – the potency of your honk’s power is boosted significantly when accompanied by a string of curses and aggressive hand gestures.
Swift shifts and abrupt swerving are key maneuvers to master if you intend to become king (or queen) of this urban jungle. One must be able to dance around potholes with the grace of a ballerina, but jerk across into the next lane like a rattlesnake delivering its deadly blow.
A survivor has a tight U-turn game. Fvck what the signs have to say. Sometimes you'll miss a turn, a road-block will pop up over night, or GPS will lead you astray, and you'll need to get back en route ASAP. Disregard all signs and traffic lights. You are a busy, important person and any break in the median or controlled intersection can easily be used to get you back in the game.
Finally, your tailgating needs to be on point. Whatever you do, do not leave space between you and the jerk-offs ahead of you, because anything more than three feet is a clear invitation for them to assume dominance over you and to barge right in there. The closer your bumper is to the next car at an intersection, the less likely you are going to be clipped by oncoming traffic as you piggy-back through the red light. It's really a matter of self-preservation.
Like a wildcat on the prowl, you must stay alert! All of these skills are to be executed at high velocity, and your reaction time on the brakes is the only thing standing between you and that asshole making you spill your SCALDING HOT morning coffee into your lap. SERIOUSLY?! HOSTIEDECON! I WAITED HALF AN HOUR AT TIM’S FOR THIS! GAHHH!
Never forget that taxi drivers are some of the most fearsome beasts on these roads. They are a ruthless, cut-throat villains when antagonized, and if you value your life you will avoid getting on their bad side. An UberX driver was recently caught upsetting the hive and faced the wrath of the cabby swarm, and though he didn't get a ticket, we're not entirely convinced he lived to tell the tale.
Of course, getting behind the wheel anywhere is always a bit of a gamble. But for drivers in this town it’s less of a casual game of blackjack with your drinking buddies and more like a high stakes poker game against a known Russian mobster. And whether you like it or not, the house always wins. So follow the rules, or they’ll seriously take your finger.
Welcome to the jungle, baby. Buckle up and good luck.