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towing-safety-graphicEvery year more people are hitting the road. Whether it’s for daily commuting or long distance travel, the number of drivers continues to increase steadily throughout the country.

Understandably, the challenge of road safety has become a top priority for states as we continue to see a high number of reported traffic incidents each year involving not only the driver, but also those responding to help.  In honor of Traffic Incident Response Week, November 13th through the 19th, MassDOT and MAPFRE Insurance want to remind Bay State residents of how important it is to always #MoveOverSlowDown.  Traffic Incident Response Week was designated by the Federal Highway Administration, with administration and support from the TIM (traffic incident management) Network.

In 2009 the Move Over Law went into effect which states that if a driver is approaching a stationary roadside maintenance or emergency vehicle they are required, by law, to slow down and move over to the next lane, if it’s safe to do so. The hope was that the law would educate and remind drivers that roadside crews, such as first responders, tow truck operators and Highway Assistance Patrol drivers, are left vulnerable, with only flashing lights to protect them from oncoming vehicles. Unfortunately, even with this law in place the fatality rate of roadside crews continues to increase. In fact, the National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Fund’s mid-year report stated the number one cause of death for police officers in 2017 was due to traffic related incidents.

Highway Assist Patrol drivers, along with tow truck operators, are often the first and only responders to roadside vehicle incidents, however motorists tend to forget that they are also protected under this law. The Statewide Towing Association “STA” of Massachusetts, a member of the TIM Network, estimates that a tow truck operator is killed on the job every 6 days, totaling upwards of 60 deaths per year. The STA was founded in 1970 and is dedicated to supporting its members’ safety by giving a voice to the tow industry and advocating for better legislation. Their purpose: “To establish, foster and improve standards of workmanship and safety, with respect to the transportation, recovery and storage of motor vehicles.” Also, “To promote and develop a better understanding of the complexities and problems involved in the transportation, recovery and storage of motor vehicles.” Over the years, the Statewide Towing Association has worked hard to provide state residents with only the best tow operators, and in return for their service, they urge motorists to do their part in keeping operators safe by simply moving over and slowing down when vehicle lights are flashing.

Here in Massachusetts we are fortunate to have the MassDOT Highway Assistance Program patrolling the busiest highways and the Turnpike, working hard to keep us all safe. The Highway Assistance Patrol “HAP” covers routes in Metro Boston, Worcester, Springfield & Cape Cod (seasonal) during peak coverage hours, Monday – Friday, 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., with extended hours on the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) and heavy holiday traffic routes. In addition to the HAP vehicles, MassDOT operates an Incident Response Operators (IRO) fleet of flatbed tow trucks. IRO’s assigned to patrol Interstate 93, the Maurice J. Tobin Memorial Bridge, Ted Williams Tunnel, Sumner Tunnel and Callahan Tunnel 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Services include changing tires, fixing minor mechanical issues and removing debris from the road after an accident, as well as providing gas and minor emergency medical help if needed. MAPFRE Insurance understands how valuable this free service is to state residents and visitors, and as the leading auto insurer in the state, we are proud to sponsor the Highway Assistance Program as it continues to provide peace of mind for motorists. We hope that Traffic Incident Response Week calls attention to the fact that #MoveOverSlowDown saves lives, and we urge Massachusetts motorists to carry on these safe driving practices throughout the year.

Written By Patrick McDonald, CPCU, AIM, AIS, Executive Vice President – Business & Clients, MAPFRE  Insurance

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