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MAPFRE SeatBelt 2019The two most traveled holidays are upon us, with the first being Thanksgiving weekend. From Wednesday, November 27th through Monday, December 2nd, all drivers should be aware of the factors that make this holiday one of the deadliest for our roadways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2013 to 2017, more than 800 people died in alcohol related crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period.

Thanksgiving Eve has become a trend called “Blackout Wednesday,” which encourages heavy consumption of alcohol. MassDOT and MAPFRE suggest that concerned residents use and follow the hashtag #BoycottBlackoutWednesday on social media to promote safe driving and spread the message that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. If you plan on drinking during Thanksgiving weekend, be sure to plan before you party. Drunk driving is illegal in all 50 states, and it is never a good idea to drive after consuming even just one drink. Designate a sober driver to get everyone home safely, use a ride-sharing service and keep an eye on your friends who also plan to drink. Remember to be aware of other drivers on the road and report any driver who may be a danger to other roadway users.

One of the best ways to keep yourself safe while on the road is to buckle up. NHTSA found that in 2017, 47% of vehicle occupants who died in a crash were not wearing a seat belt. Making it to the next Thanksgiving can be as simple as buckling up– and not just on Thanksgiving, but every day.

Massachusetts Law requires every person to wear a seat belt. Any driver who is stopped by an officer for a traffic violation, and is not wearing a seat belt will be fined.  Be aware of the following myths when it comes to proper seat belt use:

  • Vehicle Type: Some believe that the larger their vehicle is, the safer they will be protected. However, the statistics say otherwise. Almost 60% of pickup truck occupants killed in 2017 were not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Seating Position: There is a misconception that those sitting in the back seat of a car are safer in a crash. 46% of all front-seat passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes in 2017 were unrestrained, but 56% of those killed in back seats were unrestrained.
  • Rural versus urban locations: People who live in rural areas might believe that their crash exposure is lower. However, there were over 2,000 more fatalities in rural areas in 2017 than in urban areas.

Make it a habit to buckle up every trip, every time.

Even the safest of drivers can find themselves in need of assistance, 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. The Highway Assistance Program drivers monitor some of the state’s busiest highways and turnpikes around Metro Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Cape Cod (seasonal). The Highway Assistance Patrol covers 13 major state roadways and interstates, the Emergency Service Patrol covers the Mass Pike (I-90) from New York to Boston and the Incident Response Operators cover the Metropolitan Highway System and tunnels. The Highway Assistance Patrol is in service Monday–Friday between the hours of 6 a.m.–10 a.m. and 3 p.m.–7 p.m. During holidays, there are extended routes in heavy traffic areas. On I-90, and in Boston’s tunnel system, assistance is provided 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

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

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