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MassDOT, MAPFRE Insurance Reminder: Winter is not over yet

MAPFRE Feb 22 - NHTSA Winter 2

After the wintery weather we faced in January, it’s no surprise that Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter on Groundhog Day. As we move further into February and temperatures begin to fluctuate in true New England fashion, it’s important to be prepared for any more blizzards and ice storms that may come our way. This includes keeping an eye on weather changes, adjusting your driving and speed to the weather, and making sure your vehicle is winterized.

The transition between winter to spring can be a confusing time. Here in Massachusetts, it could be 50 degrees one day and a major blizzard the next day. That’s why keeping an eye on the weather can help you prepare ahead of time before hitting the road. If you find yourself on the road during a storm or icy conditions, be sure to reduce your speed and increase your following distance enough so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you. You should never crowd a snowplow or travel beside the truck. Snowplows travel slowly, make wide turns, stop often, overlap lanes, and exit the road frequently. If you find yourself behind a snowplow, stay far enough behind it and use caution if you pass the plow.

Many times during winter weather, vehicles may lose traction and control, which increases the risk of spinning out. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers some tips to follow if you find yourself in an emergency during winter conditions:

  • Stay focused on yourself and your passengers, your car, and your surroundings.
  • Stay with your car, and don’t overexert yourself.
  • Let your car be seen. Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light on.
  • Be mindful of carbon monoxide poisoning. Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of any snow and run your car only sporadically — just long enough to stay warm. Don’t run your car for long periods of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space.

To help avoid future emergencies, it’s best to make sure your vehicle is fully prepared for winter. This includes checking on your car’s battery and ensuring you have the right tires. As the outside temperature drops, so does tire inflation pressure. Make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure, which is in your owner’s manual and on a label located on the driver’s side door frame. Do not inflate your tires to the pressure listed on the tire itself. That number is the maximum pressure the tire can hold, not the recommended pressure for your vehicle (NHTSA).

When the temperature drops, so does battery power. In cold weather, gasoline and diesel engines take more battery power to start, and electric, and hybrid-electric vehicles’ driving range can be reduced. Have a mechanic check your battery, charging system, belts, and for any other needed repairs or replacements (NHTSA).

Lastly, don’t forget to have an emergency kit in your vehicle at all times. This kit should include:

  • A snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper.
  • Abrasive material (sand or kitty litter), in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow.
  • Jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices (flares and emergency markers).
  • Blankets for protection from the cold.
  • A cell phone and charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine.

If you find yourself in need of assistance, the MassDOT Highway Assistance Program sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance is on patrol to help on the highways. Patrol operators 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

Keith Jensen

Senior Vice President, Northeast Business Development

Written By:

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