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Traffic I-95 NewtonIn time for Memorial Day, the kick-off to the summer driving season, MassDOT Acting Highway Administrator Thomas Tinlin joined MAPFRE Insurance in reminding motorists to adhere to speed limits, obey traffic laws and avoid distracted driving when traveling during the summer months.

According to data released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, summer is the most dangerous driving season, with more fatal crashes occurring in June through August than during winter months. Road congestion resulting from vacation travel and increased roadway construction projects are some of the factors thought to contribute to this statistic.

MassDOT’s Highway Assistance Patrol service, sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance, works to reduce roadway congestion and to make the Commonwealth’s roadways safer for summer travel. The Highway Assistance Patrol covers Massachusetts’ most heavily traveled highways during peak travel times in order to keep traffic flowing and attend to motorists who become stranded as the result of a flat tire, dead battery, or other mechanical failure.

“Beginning with Memorial Day, summer means more travelers are on the road, and we urge motorists to use caution when driving during this busy season,” Administrator Tinlin said. “MassDOT and MAPFRE Insurance are proud of the work performed by the Highway Assistance Patrol and its proven effectiveness in reducing congestion and improving highway safety by quickly clearing and assisting broken down vehicles as well as removing debris from the roadways.”

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, for the 2015 summer driving season, regular gasoline retail prices are expected to decrease from last summer’s average of $3.59/gallon to $2.45/gallon. These low prices, in addition to summer vacations, are expected to translate to even more people traveling on Massachusetts highways this summer.

“We are proud to partner with MassDOT to sponsor the Highway Assistance Program. We support their efforts and are pleased to partner with an organization that is also focused on keeping motorists safe and taking care of people.” said Patrick McDonald, Executive Vice President, Business and Clients, MAPFRE Insurance.

The Highway Assistance Patrol covers Interstate 93/O’Neill Tunnel running through Boston, and Interstates in Greater Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Cape Cod (seasonally) as well as at the Tobin Bridge, Ted Williams Tunnels, Sumner and Callahan Tunnels. The patrol provides free, limited roadside assistance to drivers in need. They also assist in contacting other first responders, clearing debris or managing traffic congestion due to crashes. Getting disabled vehicles back on the roads reduces congestion and improves safety during rush hours by removing a distraction that can cause traffic backups and accidents.

The Highway Assistance Patrol program already responds to more than 30,000 incidents annually. The Patrol has had a decisive impact on (i) moving vulnerable drivers and their disabled vehicles out of harm’s way; (ii) reducing secondary accidents by quickly clearing lane-blocking vehicles that endanger on-going traffic; (iii) reducing congestion; (iv) lowering the number of travel delays; and (v) reducing harmful carbon monoxide emissions from stalled traffic.

MAPFRE Insurance has sponsored the Highway Assistance Patrol program since 2003.

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