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It’s hard to believe that it has been almost a full year since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in our nation. Although it has been a very difficult year for many Americans, it is within these difficult times where we must recognize the heroes who worked tirelessly putting their own lives at risk to help others.

Picture1Patrol drivers, like other first responders such as nurses, EMT’s, doctors, fire fighters and law enforcement, have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic. Whether it be a quick tire change or assisting in emergency situations, patrol operators face dangers every day on Massachusetts highways. Working in coordination with law enforcement and other first responders, these patrol operators provide safe, quick clearance of incidents and debris, and offer assistance to motorists to get them safely on their way.

One of the greatest risks that patrol operators face when assisting on highways is the risk of a secondary accident, which could be fatal. Even though the pandemic resulted in decreased traffic levels, many states saw an increase in speeding and reckless driving. In 2020 alone, 46 first responders were killed in the line of duty due to other vehicles not properly following the Move Over Law. Even though all 50 states have enacted a ‘Move Over Law,’ one-third of the population is still unaware of these laws. In Massachusetts, the law states that drivers traveling in the same direction and approaching a stationary emergency vehicle, highway maintenance vehicle, or tow or recovery vehicle with flashing lights must slow down to a safe speed and, if practicable, move to a non-adjacent lane.

Next time you are traveling on a Massachusetts highway and see a first responder, please remember to give them space and move over or slow down to a safe speed. As always, if you find yourself receiving assistance from the MassDOT Highway Assistance Program sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance, give them a virtual hug by thanking them here or sharing your story on social media with the hashtag #thanksMAPFRE.

This thank you note is just one of many stories and feedback the Highway Assistance Program receives every year:

“Dear MassDOT, I am writing to commend your employee, Derek. On May 11th, I was driving on RT 95 North in Walpole when I struck a deer with my pickup truck. My airbag deployed but I was able to pull over to the breakdown lane. While I was trying to call the State Police, Derek pulled up behind me in his MassDOT Highway Assistance truck. He proceeded to quickly assess the situation, and at great risk to himself, was able to clear the deer from the middle lane. He then checked on me in my vehicle. Seeing that I was still shaken up, he stayed with me until the State Police arrived. I am extremely grateful that he arrived when he did and for his actions. Not only did he assist me, but he may have prevented others from getting hurt as well. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured and my truck can be repaired. I want to express my thanks to Derek and conclude by saying his ability to assess a dangerous situation under pressure and remain calm, kind, and professional is deserving of a special commendation.”

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, seven days a week.

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

Written By:

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