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MAPFRE Van Winter 2019December swooped into New England with significant snow storms, and there are more to come this season. As many Bay Staters have experienced, these storms cause difficulties and dangerous situations on our roadways. According to research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, winter storms with poor road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter. If you must drive despite the weather, it is extremely important to plan ahead and know the best ways to prevent a crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides numerous tips that everyone, even experienced drivers, should follow:

  • Make sure your car has been checked and serviced regularly so you can avoid breaking down and becoming stranded in the cold; this also includes checking for recalls.
  • Learn how your vehicle handles winter weather by practicing driving on snow after a storm. Inexperienced drivers should avoid practicing on main roads.
  • Navigate safely around snow plows. The road behind an active snow plow is safer to drive on. Stay behind it or use caution when passing.
  • Stock your vehicle with an emergency kit. This kit should include a shovel, broom, ice scraper, jumper cables, flashlights and blankets.
  • Inspect your tires before a storm arrives, and consider purchasing snow tires for the winter months.

One of the most important tips while driving during or after a storm is to drive slowly! Check the forecast and allow yourself extra time to avoid rushing on the roads. Be aware of any state-mandated alerts, such as speed limit restrictions imposed during storms. Additionally, increasing following distance will help you stop completely without sliding into the vehicle ahead of you.

If you become stuck during wintery weather, have an emergency plan. Stay with your car, turn on your hazards, and be sure to have a fully charged mobile device with you in order to contact someone for help, like the MassDOT Highway Assistance Patrol sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance. During coverage hours, when you dial 9-1-1, the State Police can dispatch a patrol vehicle to assist you.

In these extreme winter conditions, rest assured 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 patrol operators roam the busiest highways and turnpikes around Metro Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Cape Cod (seasonal), covering 13 major state roadways and interstates. 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., and during holidays there are extended routes in heavy traffic areas. 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; assistance is provided 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Enjoy the holiday season and drive safe!

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

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