Car Safety Tips


Get Your Car Ready For Winter!

Car Ready for Winter?

Winter weather is here! Is your car ready?  When the temperature drops it can have some seriously negative effects on your vehicle, which is why it is so important to winterize your car.  Basic maintenance and simple adjustments make a world of difference when it comes to prepping a car for winter and safe winter driving.  To make it easy for you, we’ve listed some of the most important steps to winterize your vehicle in the upcoming months:

  • Get your tires checked.  Cold weather causes tires to lose their air quicker than usual.  Checking the air pressure is crucial during the winter season, especially because roads are so slick and icy, you need your tires to be at top performance more than ever.  If it is an option financially, snow tires are a great option as they can reduce travel time while increasing safety of the vehicle.
  • Winter wiper blades are a cost effective preventative measure as they usually range from about $8-$10 each.  These blades have a thicker and wider rubber covering and are able to power through snow and ice more effectively than normal wiper blades.
  • Check windshield washer fluid levels!  Switching to a winter grade solvent windshield washer fluid during this time of year is helpful because it doesn’t freeze.   It is also especially important in the winter because it is able to assist in clearing away snow and ice on the windshield if you are in a rush and don’t have much time to scrape off ice.
  • Keep your gas tank as full as possible during the next few months.  This prevents the gas line from freezing.  Condensation typically builds up inside a gas tank but during the winter it is especially dangerous because it can freeze.  Should this happen, the water will sink to the bottom of the tank, freeze, and consequently make it impossible to drive.  If you are not able to pump a full tank’s worth of gas, adding a bottle’s worth of fuel de-icer to the tank can keep the line from freezing.
  • Salt is one of the most harmful elements to cars during the winter.  It is necessary for keeping the roads safer and less icy, but in turn salt gets into the undercarriage of a car, causing parts to rust and erode over time.  Getting your car washed (at least once a week) in the winter washes away the salt which can be detrimental to both the car and your wallet should it cause erosion.  Be sure to ask for an undercarriage rinse for best effects.
  • Despite the cold temperatures, an engine can still over heat in the winter.  The cold causes oil to thicken which makes it move more slowly between different parts of the engine, which results in it getting too hot.  A simple oil change, which is recommended about every 3,000 miles, is the best way to keep this from happening.
  • On the other hand, you don’t want your engine to freeze either, which is why antifreeze is essential to ensure that your vehicle survives the cold.  Putting the right amount is crucial to the engine’s performance as well.  Creating a mixture of about 50% antifreeze and 50% water is the ideal fluid to put into the engine.
  • Check the battery, belts, and hoses.  The engine has to work much harder in the cold which puts extra strain on the battery.  They typically last about 3-5 years but it is important to keep track so that you don’t end up stranded in the snow.  Belts and hoses are weakened by the cold which makes it easier for them to snap or break.  Have a mechanic take a look at these when you bring your car in for an oil change.
  • Should you ever find yourself stranded in the snow with a broken down car, one of the most important things to have is an emergency kit specifically for winter.  This should include blankets, boots, gloves, flares, a flashlight, ice scraper, spare tire, and energy bars.
  • Make sure your Mass auto insurance policy is squared away before hitting the road, just in case. Call your MassDrive agent today to learn more.

This season can result in extremely dangerous winter driving conditions which is why it is so important to be sure that your car is in the best shape possible!  These tips not only make driving safer in the present, but help to prevent potentially serious damage to your car in the future!

Photo by wanko

Snow Day or No Way? Tips and Tools for Finding School Cancellations in Massachusetts

Snowday Cancellation Resources

This winter in Massachusetts has gotten off to a slow start to say the least, we are yet to see a storm that has been worthy of a snow day.  However, we are definitely overdue for a day off and when we do eventually encounter a storm, getting the details of Massachusetts office, store, and school closings has been made easy.

While we still have the option of watching the news and patiently waiting for our town to show up in alphabetical order at the bottom of the screen, online resources offer a more timely way to get the same information.  Typically, schools and towns have their own websites that announce school delays and closings. In case your school or town does not offer a site that would provide this information, http://www.cancellations.com/ gives students and parents an easy alternative to search for school snow closings.  Users simply have to enter their zip code, hit search, and a list of school closings in the area is made available to them.

Then there is the classic option of watching the news for closings, delays, and cancellations due to the weather.  Major stations in Massachusetts include:

These news outlets continuously broadcast closings and delays at the bottom of their screen, and their websites are also a useful resource when it comes to school closings.

Radio Stations are a great way to get information if you’re on the go, especially since cell phone usage behind the wheel is banned in Massachusetts.  The majority of stations on the air update their listeners on local closings; however news stations specialize in specifically updating Massachusetts residents on current weather and closing conditions.  This can be more convenient than listening to an entertainment station as it focuses on the news at hand, rather than just briefly highlighting it.  Two major stations in MA are:

  • WBZ News Radio AM 1030, which is a facet of CBS Boston
  • WGBH FM 89.7, which is an affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR)

Twitter users will find the social media site especially useful for finding school cancellations.  All major news outlets have a Twitter account that they utilize to updated followers on the weather as well as news.  These accounts include:

  • Fox 25 News Boston (@fox25news)
  • WBZ Boston News (@cbsboston)
  • WCVB-TV Boston News (@WCBV)
  • Boston News Now (@bostonnewsnow)
  • Boston.com News (@BostonDotCom)
  • 7News (@7News)
  • NECN (@NECN)
  • WBZ Boston Weather (@wbzweather)

In addition to these accounts, look for your favorite weather anchor on Twitter for further updates.

Be sure to check with schools as well, many Public Schools as well as Universities offer text alerts to inform students and parents of delays or cancellations due to inclement weather.  With so many different media outlets to utilize, getting the most up to date information on snow cancellations and delays is easier and faster than ever.

If schools are closed due to the weather, be careful if you must get out on the roads! Make sure to take care, brush up on your winter weather driving techniques and ensure your Massachusetts car insurance is up to date!

New Year’s Eve Safety Tips

Stay Safe this New Year'sNew Year’s is a time for celebrating, reflection, resolutions and some auld lang syne. One of the most hyped party nights of the year, there will be lots of festivities occurring this December 31st, which happens to fall on a Saturday this year. Whether you’re throwing a party, checking out the club scene or attending First Night, it is important to make sure you’re safe this New Year’s Eve. Drunk driving and New Year’s seem to go hand-in-hand according to the statistics, so please, take measures to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Drunk driving is especially common on New Year’s Eve, especially between the hours of 9:00pm and 6:00am. Every year, there are 16,000 alcohol-related car accidents. Someone is killed every half hour due to drunk driving and someone else is injured every other minute, according to Lifetips30% of Americans will be involved in a car accident involving alcohol – this year, resolve to not be one of them.

New Year’s Day is considered to be the deadliest day of the year, second to the Fourth of July, according to ABC News. Deaths shoot up 150% on New Year’s because of drunk drivers on the roads. Sadly, it isn’t just driving that’s unsafe. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway safety, New Year’s also has the highest amount of pedestrians killed than any other day throughout the year. Be aware however you travel this New Year’s.

New Year’s Eve Safety Tips:

  • When traveling, choose a designated driver. Sure, no one likes to be left out of the partying on New Year’s, but get all the passengers to pitch in for the driver’s cover charge at the bar, or owe them a big favor. Regardless, if you are going to be traveling by car, make sure your driver is sober. Not only will your journey be safer, a sober driver will be better able to respond to drunk drivers sharing the road.
  • If you are driving and may be tempted to drink, make sure to give your keys up upon arriving at the party. Listen to your friends if they think you are too intoxicated to drive. There are always other and better options than you getting behind the wheel, and it is always better to be safe than sorry.
  • If you are traveling by car, as the driver or as a passenger, bring along an overnight bag just in case. This will make it less tempting to drive drunk, and you’ll be able to stay over more comfortably.
  • Take public transportation! The MBTA will offer free service after 8pm on New Year’s Eve, and the subway is open until 12:45am. This will give you enough time to go out and take in the beautiful midnight fireworks!
  • Call a cab. Paying a cab fare is much less costly than the price you could pay driving drunk. Don’t want to deal with Boston taxis? Use Uber, a car service app that makes it extremely easy and hassle-free to get a pick up, and you won’t have to worry about paying with cash or calculating a tip when you’ve had a few drinks.
  • Call the Tipsy Tow! If you must get home with your car, call AAA. The Tipsy Tow will pick you, your car and as many friends will fit in the truck up and bring you back home. Call 1-800-AAA-HELP (1-800-222-4357), anywhere in the US and Canada, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
  • Book a room. Why not make a night of it? If you’re traveling to a party somewhere, book a room at a nearby hotel and circumvent having to drive after 6pm. Sites like Priceline and Hotwire always have great deals on hotels. Pamper yourself while staying safe!

Don’t make excuses – there are too many options that will get you home safely. Plan ahead and keep your loved ones in mind when making your New Year’s plans.

May you have a happy and safe New Year’s! This year, don’t let the New Year’s Eve drunk driving statistics keep you from having a good time, but be diligent! I’ll leave you on a positive note with my favorite version of Auld Lang Syne, one by the talented Martin Sexton! From all of us at MassDrive, we wish you the very best in the new year!

Photo by e_calamar

Winter Driving Safety Tips: Driving with Snow Plows

Driving with Snow Plows

Snow driving is one of the hallmarks of residing in Massachusetts. For some, driving in the snow is the next great adventure, for others, it’s a terrifying experience. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, there’s no denying that snow plows are a lifesaver during a storm. Helping remove snow and ensure safety, snow plows make it possible to get around during the winter months.

Plowing is done according to a hierarchy of importance – small public alleys, side streets and dead ends are the last to be plowed, so be sure to watch out if you live on any of these routes and plan accordingly during storms!

Winter Safety Driving Tips: Driving With Plows

Snow plows can be quite dangerous if you’re unsure how to drive with them. Follow these recommendations for driving with snow plows from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation for safe winter driving:

  • Keep your distance, don’t assume plow drivers can see you. Their field of vision is limited – in addition to the blind spots of a traditional car, the snow that a snow plow stirs up may also limit the driver’s visibility. To be safe, stay 70 feet (4 car lengths) from the plow truck so the driver can see you.
  • Use extreme caution when passing a plow. There are no laws prohibiting drivers from passing a snow plow on the road, but it is extremely dangerous to do so. The wing plow blades of any given truck can extend 2 to 10 feet beyond the width of the truck, and are often hard to see because of the snow they push to the sides while plowing. Sometimes weighing as much as a compact car, you don’t want to hit one of these guys. If you must, snow plows push snow to the right, so avoid passing them on this side.
  • Turn on your lights. See and be seen by keeping your headlights on while driving in the snow.

Following these tips will help you drive safely and soundly around plows this winter, however, accidents do happen especially in winter conditions. If you do get in an accident, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation recommends that you assess the scene – is anyone hurt? Are you stranded? If so, or if if you feel you need to, call 911. If possible, move your vehicle off the road to clear the way for other drivers, and stay in your vehicle – it is safer than being outside during a storm. If it is dark, make sure to keep your light on with the engine running, but make sure to crack a window to keep fresh air circulating through your car – you never know if your exhaust pipe is blocked. If it’s light out, turn off your engine. Keep your circulation moving while you’re in the car by moving around and huddling for warmth, and if need be – make your car visible to rescuers. If you get in accident with another vehicle, make sure to exchange information, including your auto insurance information to settle any damage claims.

Driving in the snow can be dangerous, but sometimes it is necessary. When driving in a storm with plows, keep these tips in mind. Stay safe this winter!

Photo by bbearnes

75 ThanksGiving Drivers & OUIs

The winter holidays are a stressful time for many, but don’t let the hustle and bustle lead to bad driving decisions. The Massachusetts Public Safety and Securities reported making 171 total arrests Thanksgiving Thursday through Sunday, November 28th. Of the total 171 arrests, 75 have been reported as OUIs – 71 under the influence of alcohol and 4 under the influence of other narcotics.

Neighboring New Hampshire officials arrested 33 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol. The New Hampshire Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) program stopped 3,519 drivers, almost 1,000 of which were cited with speeding according to the Boston Globe.

The holiday season brings increased patrols, even more reason to drive carefully in this winter wonderland. An additional 13 State Police patrolled the roads from late Wednesday through early Thanksgiving morning. With Christmas and other December holidays around the corner, think twice before drinking your eggnog.

Steer Clear of Deer & Check Your Coverage

This October will bring changing leave colors, cooler temperatures, and… deer migration and mating season. As deer begin to frequent more populated areas it’s important to take measures avoiding a deer-vehicle mishap and making sure you’re covered.

Firstly, check your auto insurance policy to find if you have comprehensive coverage. This portion of your policy will provide coverage the event of an accident not involving another vehicle. Next check your deductible – is it $300, $500, maybe $1,000? It is important to find a balance between what you can afford on your auto insurance and as a deductible should an accident occur – the final line here is: What can you handle financially?

After review of your current policy and making appropriate adjustments, you will want to take additional steps to decrease the risk of experiencing an accident with a deer.

To avoid such an accident, practice defensive driving and consider the following:

  • Drive carefully in wooded/ forested areas or locations deer are known to be prevalent.
  • When there is no on-coming traffic drive with your brights, or high-beams, on. This will better light the road and surrounding areas as well as the outline of a deer in the road.
  • Slow when you see a deer in the road, however do not swerve or make any sudden driving changes. If you do swerve your may loose control of your vehicle and/or collide with another vehicle on the road.
  • Wear your seat belt. If you should experience an accident, with or without a deer or not, seat belts save lives – yours could be one of them.

New iZUP Application Prevents Distracted Driving

A new technology has arrived to increase driving safety by restricting cell phone use behind the wheel. The clever iZUP (i.e. “eyes up”) application, developed by Illume Software, was created to help eliminate distracted driving. Recent legislation banning texting and driving holds the potential for strict fines and possible license suspensions if caught. Applications restricting phone use behind the wheel may be answer for parents and employers and necessary step for the texting-addicts.

iZUP technology includes the following features to aid in reducing distracted driving:

  • Preventing outgoing text messages, e-mails and phone calls while driving
  • sending incoming calls to voicemail and holding text messages when the vehicle is in motion
  • Prohibiting web browsing and application use while driving
  • Providing password-protected passenger override
  • Allowing three authorized phone numbers (i.e. home, employer, etcetera)
  • Allowing one authorized application (i.e. navigation/ gps)
  • Making emergency 911 quick dial available at all times
  • Automatically unblocking all calls after a 911 call
  • Tamper alert send to an account holder when the user (child or possibly employee) attempts to disable iZUP
  • Sending notification of 911 call to account holder with a map shoving call location and time

More information about iZUP can be found on the provider’s website: www.getizup.com.

RECEIVE AN iZUP DISCOUNT:

MassDrive is proud to announce drivers with a Plymouth Rock policy have the opportunity to receive a 25% discount on iZUP! This discount is just another of the many benefit of the Savings Pass program, a free perk of holding a policy with Plymouth Rock. MassDrive carriers offer unique discounts on insurance and additional products, such as the iZUP application. For a free qutoe contact your friendly MassDrive agent today!

NHTSA Announces New 5-Star Vehicle Safety Rating

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, also known as NHTSA, has publicized their first lineup of 2011 model vehicles undergoing the government’s newly renovated 5-star safety rating program.

The NHTSA press release stated:

“In all, 24 passenger cars, 20 sport utility vehicles, two vans, and nine 2011 model year pickups will be rated under the new system that not only includes tougher crash tests, but, for the first time, provides consumers with a single overall safety score per vehicle.  The new testing program will also provide consumers with information about new advanced crash avoidance technologies, such as lane departure and forward collision warning systems.”

The ratings for the 55 vehicles undergoing the new NHTSA’s safety rating system will be posted on the agency’s future webpage: www.safecar.gov. Once the new scores are posted drivers will be able to compare the new ratings with old ones as the rating criteria has changed. Challenging auto manufacturers to create safer vehicles the new standards have made it more difficult to obtain a high safety rating.

The stricter standards are to include new injury testing and a new side impact pole test that simulates wrapping a vehicle around a tree. The new testing will also require crash-test dummies and a frontal crash test that will look more closely at knee, hip and thigh injuries.

If you’re in the market for a 2011 vehicle keep an eye out for these new ratings to be published on the NHTSA’s website. For a list of first vehicles to be tested on the new standards visit the NHTSA’s website at: www.nhtsa.gov/PR/NHTSA-05-10.

Emergency Vehicles – Move Over & Save a Life

Police across Massachusetts and New Hampshire have announced they will be increasing their efforts in enforcing the laws requiring drivers to move over when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the side of the road. State police in New Hampshire report about 25 accidents a year in which troopers or their vehicles were struck by other vehicles when stopped at construction details or traffic stops.

The seriousness of this measure needs to be understood by all. This past July 17th 2010 a Massachusetts trooper was sitting in his cruiser after pulling a driver over when he was struck by another motorist. The second motorist who collided with the trooper’s cruiser was cited on DWI charges however police note distracted driving is one of the greatest factors in these accidents.

New Hampshire and Massachusetts police said they are doing their best to educate drivers of the law requiring motorists to move over a lane when an emergency vehicle’s lights are flashing. The state police have also noted they will be enforcing this law with greater diligence. Some drivers have complained it’s difficult to move over a lane due to additional traffic – in these cases the state police have said the motorist should slow down or face a fine.

Trooper Thomas Lencki was able to escape an accident in 2003 where another motorist crashed into the back of his vehicle:

“I noticed an SUV coming into the breakdown lane at a high rate of speed… I was able to move a little bit to protect myself and the woman, and he hit me at about 78 mph, pushed me into the Jersey barrier and then pushed me into her.”

Distracted driving can have grave consequences. If you see an emergency vehicle flashing lights, move over a lane – you may just save a life.

MIT Joins Fight Against Distracted Driving

From Oprah’s National No Phone Day to commercials during your favorite sitcom, it is widely known cell phone use behind the wheel is a dangerous endeavor. A recent study by the American Automobile Association found the risk of an auto accident increases by approximately 50% while texting behind the wheel. According to a webinar hosted by Neustar 2.5 billion text messages are sent per day in the United States… too many of these from behind the wheel.

Ray LaHood, Secretary of the United States Transportation, has taken a firm lead in the fight against distracted driving. LaHood took part in the Washington No Phone Zone rally last Friday emphasizing the importance of putting cell phones away while driving. A largely useful suggestion LaHood has made is for driver’s to place their cell phones in the glove box before operating a vehicle. The Secretary has enlisted the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to find a technology with the ability to disable a driver’s cell phone use while not blocking passenger’s cell phone usage.

According to an article in the Washington Post LaHood’s research has uncovered the following facts:

  • Eight in ten drivers talk on the phone behind the wheel.
  • Cell phones are a factor in an estimated 342,000 auto accident injuries per year.
  • The cost of property damage, lost wages, medical bills and lost lives accrues to a whopping $43 billion per year.

Distracted driving is not an issue to take lightly. The Secretary visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge to personally request help in his fight against cell phone related distracted driving. LaHood challenged the students and faculty to build a car that will not crash, design a zero emission greenhouse gas vehicle, and create a green revolution changing the way energy is consumed and generated.

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