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MAPFRE Buzzed Driving July 2019This month kicked off with Independence Day and throughout the summer there are more celebrations to be had. The 4th of July period is known as one of the deadliest holidays of the year due to the amount of impaired driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 600 people died in motor vehicle accidents during this time period in 2017. Of those fatalities, 39% occurred in alcohol-impaired crashes.

The summer months are filled with celebrations including graduation parties, family reunions, cook-outs, weddings and more. At these celebrations, even those who assign themselves as the “designated driver,” may end up having a drink or two. This leads to the saying “If I feel okay, then I can drive.” Buzzed driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. NHTSA found that drivers with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08 are approximately 4 times more likely to crash than drivers with a BAC of zero. Although every state has passed a law making it illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, a driver can also be arrested when they have a BAC below .08. This can happen when a law enforcement officer has probable cause, based on the driver’s behavior.

Many studies have shown that even the smallest amount of alcohol can affect a person’s ability to drive. Alcohol consumption can start to take effect on driving with just a .02 BAC. A low BAC still has the power to cause loss of judgment, altered mood, a decline in visual functions, and a decline in the ability to perform two tasks at once. Not only has drunk-driving and buzzed-driving proven to be fatal, it can also be very costly. On average, a DUI can cost someone up to $10,000 in attorney fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, car repairs, and more. These situations could also cause someone to lose their driver’s license or face jail time.

When attending a summer celebration, if you plan on drinking, or know you will be around alcohol, have a back-up plan to ensure you will get home safely. There are plenty of simple steps, offered by NHTSA, that can be taken to avoid buzzed driving:

  • Plan a safe way home in advance and never drive after drinking
  • Designate a sober driver who will stick to their commitment
  • Use a taxi, a ride sharing app, or public transportation
  • Call a sober friend or family member
  • Be a good friend: If you see someone who is about to drink and drive, take their keys and find other arrangements for them

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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