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dis-enf-10-ever-officials_lo_res-post-72-enThere are many driving conditions to be cautious of year-round in the Bay State, but spring time brings a whole new set of challenges to look out for.

Transitioning from winter to spring has a big impact on our roadway surfaces, and frequent rain fall causes loss of traction and diminishes visibility. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 22 percent of vehicle crashes occur in adverse weather conditions. About three-quarters of all weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement, and nearly half take place in the rain. To avoid incidents such as hydroplaning, remember to stay in control of your vehicle by:

Reducing speed
Keeping a safe distance
Ensuring the quality of your tires
Avoiding cruise control

Other ways to improve visibility during bad weather include keeping your windshield clean, making sure your wiper blades are in good condition, and turning on your headlights. Massachusetts’ Law states that if your windshield wipers are on, your headlights must be on as well. Sun glare will also become an issue as the days become longer. This is another reason to be sure to keep your distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. It will also be wise to keep a pair of sunglasses in your car at all times, and make good use of your vehicles’ sun visors.

We will also be seeing an increase in potholes as we move into spring, since the repeated freezing and thawing of moisture seeps through road surfaces. Striking a pothole, even while driving at low speed, can be dangerous and expensive. AAA studies have found that potholes cost U.S. drivers about $3 billion in damages each year. Barbara Ward, a traffic safety specialist with AAA Northeast, advises drivers to not break when coming in contact with a pothole. It is best to slow down as best you can, then release the break before impact. This will prevent more severe damages from occurring, as the tire is rolling rather than skidding over a hole.

Be sure to learn about the new Hands Free Law that is now in effect for Massachusetts. The law states that drivers cannot use an electronic device unless the device is being used in hands-free mode, by either Bluetooth connection or mounted on the dashboard. This means no texting or viewing texts, images or videos, unless it is for navigation and properly mounted. You can learn more about the law and its penalties here.

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.

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

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