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MAPFRE Labor Day 2019Labor Day weekend is upon us, and for many reasons, it is considered one of the busiest weekends of the year. End of summer celebrations are held, last-minute vacations are booked, and children are transitioning back to school. There are a few factors that everyone out on the road should be aware of as the summer comes to an end.

Roadway and highway traffic are expected to increase drastically, which leads to higher risks of traffic incidents. These  mishaps can range from bike collisions, pedestrian accidents, drunk-driving, and more. According to the National Safety Council, it is predicted that 420 people could die on U.S. roads this upcoming Labor Day weekend. In 2016, 36% of all fatal accidents that occurred during Labor Day weekend were alcohol related.

Remember never to drive after drinking, and be sure to make other arrangements in order to get home safely. When arriving to or leaving a Labor Day event, always wear your seatbelt. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), in 2017 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 14,955 lives and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been wearing seat belts.

Since Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends, it’s easy to become distracted or become drowsy behind the wheel. It’s extremely important to keep your eyes on the road and make sure you are fully awake. Drowsy driving is more common than one might think. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety 2015 Traffic Safety Culture Index, 1 in 3 drivers (31.5%) admitted to driving within the prior 30 days when they were so tired that they had trouble keeping their eyes open.

These precautions should be taken seriously outside of Labor Day weekend as well. The last week of August and the first week of September bring more school buses and children walking or riding bicycles to school.  NHTSA found that from 2008 to 2017, there were 264 school-age children killed in school-transportation-related crashes. The majority of those students weren’t on the bus; 203 were either walking, waiting for the bus, biking, or riding in another vehicle. As a parent, driver, or pedestrian, it is a good idea to remind yourself, your children, and others of the following NHTSA reminders to ensure that this upcoming Back-to-School season is a safe one:

  • Add more time to your morning commute since more buses are on the road. When buses stop to pick up students, other drivers MUST stop as well.
  • Be alert. Even when school bus lights aren’t flashing, watch out for children, especially in the morning or afternoon school arrival and dismissal times.
  • Teach your child(ren) about bus safety. Make sure they stay a safe distance from the curb, and wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before entering or exiting the school bus.
  • Whenever possible, always use marked crosswalks and look left-right-left before crossing the street.
  • Use the sidewalk whenever possible. If no sidewalk is available, walk on the edge of the street facing traffic.
  • If using a bike, make sure the helmet is fitted properly, ride in the same direction as traffic, and never use electronics while riding a bike.

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.

Be safe out there! #JUSTDRIVE

Written By Patrick McDonald, CPCU, CEO, Northeast Region   

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