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Distracted Driving 2019In today’s fast-paced world, distracted driving has become a national epidemic. As part of an initiative to combat distracted driving, April has been deemed National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Furthermore, April 8th – 15th is National Enforcement Mobilization, where police officers are cracking down on texting while driving. The U Drive – U Text – U Pay campaign enables these law enforcement officers to step up their game to prevent distracted driving and educate motorists about the dangers of driving distracted.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), between 2012 and 2017, nearly 20,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver. Fortunately, there was a 9 percent decrease from 2016 to 2017, however, there is still a long way to go. MassDOT, with the help of MAPFRE Insurance, wants to remind motorists that the solution starts with you. By simply eliminating any distractions and focusing on the road, you can help reduce distracted driving fatalities.

When people think of distracted driving, the first thing that usually comes to mind is cell phone use, which NHTSA advises is the highest among 16 to 24-year old drivers. The CDC also claims that sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover a football field while driving at 55 mph. The most effective way to avoid the temptation of checking your phone while driving is to turn your phone off or place it in a bag, out of reach. By eliminating the option, it allows the driver to be focused and scanning the road, rather than texts.

While cell phones are a primary distraction for drivers, they’re not the only threat. Trying to multi-task, whether eating, looking in the mirror or adjusting the radio, causes risk to everyone in the car, as well as to other motorists. These forms of distracted driving draw the driver’s attention away from the essential task of safe driving. To ensure your safety, along with your passengers, be prepared before starting the engine: don’t bring any food or drink into the car with you that would require you to relinquish focus and your phone should be off, stored away, or even with another passenger as the “designated texter.”

Even the safest of drivers need a little help sometimes, which is why the MassDOT Highway Assistance Program Sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance is here to help with fixing minor mechanical problems, flat tires, fuel shortages, and emergency situations. Your efforts to combat distracted driving can help ensure the safety of the patrol drivers, who are often in a precarious position when helping motorists on the roadside.

The Highway Assistance Program Sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance services routes in Metro Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Cape Cod (seasonal) during peak coverage hours, Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  During holidays, there are extended routes in heavy traffic areas. In addition, the Massachusetts Turnpike is patrolled 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; the same coverage hours apply to the Metropolitan Highway System, including the tunnel portion of Boston, with Incident Response Operators assigned to Interstate 93, the Maurice J. Tobin Memorial Bridge, Ted Williams Tunnel, Sumner Tunnel and Callahan Tunnel.

Written By Patrick McDonald, CPCU, CEO, Northeast Region, MAPFRE Insurance

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