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MassDOT reminds motorists to plan ahead and avoid drunk driving this season

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The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with friends and family and also can be a hectic time of year for Massachusetts drivers. With many celebrations to attend in the coming weeks, MassDOT and MAPFRE Insurance remind motorists it is more important than ever to plan ahead before getting behind the wheel in order to avoid hazards associated with weather and traffic.

One drink is one too many.

Year after year as holiday festivities begin, the number of drunk driving incidents increases. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in 2016 young adult drivers, between ages 18 to 34, were involved in the most fatal drunk driving accidents during the month of December. Too often drivers assume that they are okay to drive after having only a drink or two, but even one serving of alcohol can begin to impair reaction time.

Never be afraid to speak up if you feel someone should not be driving; it may make for an awkward situation in the moment, but they will thank you later. You will not be alone in advocating for safe driving this holiday season with NHTSA’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign. In an effort to stop drunk and “buzzed” driving they encourage everyone to act responsibly and plan ahead so we can put an end this dangerous pattern. The campaign runs December 13th to December 31st, and law enforcement will be working around the clock to keep motorists and their passengers safe as they search for drunk drivers. It is a special year-end mobilization to get drunk drivers off the street and to spread the word about the dangers of impaired driving.

Prepare to prevent.

Driving under the influence puts everyone’s lives in danger, a fact that should be a strong deterrent, but there is also a heavy financial obligation resulting from being charged with driving under the influence. NHTSA estimates that the average cost could be upwards of $10,000 for a single violation due to court/attorney fees, fines, car repairs, and many years of increased insurance costs.

More often than not, people who find themselves behind the wheel and under the influence never planned on being in that position. It’s easy to say one won’t drink, but in reality it is likely someone could get carried away during the celebration. Create a backup plan in case you or your designated driver decides to consume alcohol. NHTSA has created a mobile app called SaferRide that allows you to easily call a taxi or friend using your current location, making the process as simple as possible for those under the influence. The SaferRide mobile app is available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices.

Help is available on the highways.

We understand that life doesn’t always go as planned, and when driving around holiday shopping or heading to celebrations, problems can arise. The MassDOT Highway Assistance Program sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance is here to help with minor mechanical problems, flat tires, providing gas, and more. The Highway Assist Patrol drivers monitor some of the states busiest highways and turnpikes around Metro Boston, Worcester, Springfield & Cape Cod (seasonal) Monday through Friday during the peak hours of 6:00AM- 10:00AM and 3:00PM-7:00PM. As the state prepares for holiday travel, they will be increasing patrol hours along heavy traffic routes. In addition, state officials will be out in force this month to stop those who choose to drive under the influence as police do their best to keep Massachusetts motorists safe.

Written By Patrick McDonald, CPCU, AIM, AIS

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