It may be impossible to completely avoid Thanksgiving traffic, but there are a few ways to minimize the frustration.
1. Avoid driving at the worst traffic times– According to Waze, the heaviest traffic will be today (Tuesday) from 4–8 p.m. Unfortunately, Wednesday doesn’t look any better. In fact it could be worst especially in other parts of the country with traffic starting at 11 a.m. and continuing throughout the whole day.
2. Use alternative routes– Waze and Google maps provide real time traffic and often offer multiple routes you can take. Your usual route may not be the fastest so be sure to check the app before you hit the road! Also, if an accident or traffic jam occurs, Waze and Google maps can sometimes re-route you to a faster route.
3. Consider the longer route– While two hours driving may seem better than two and half, it’s worth considering taking the longer route that’s moving along than the shorter route stuck in traffic. Psychologically speaking, it tends to feel less frustrating for you and your passengers when you’re actually driving, rather than going bumper to bumper at a snail’s pace.
4. Avoid driving Sunday, or give yourself PLENTY of time– There is no good time to drive Sunday. Traffic will be crazy all day. Yes, you read that right- All day. If you are luckily enough to wait til Monday, avoid driving 10am to noon when the worst traffic will hit.
5. Fill up on gas before you hit the road- You do not want to have to make unnecessary stops while you travel. If you’re lucky, one tank of gas will be more than enough for your trip. If you’re traveling far, be sure to fill up your tank when gas is easily available. The last think you want is to be frantically watching your tank drain while you’re stuck in traffic and no where close to a gas station.
6. Play car games to keep the kids entertained- Instead of playing the oh so annoying “Are we there yet?” game, keep these car games ready for when your kids start to get antsy.
Safe travels from you friends at MassDrive! We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!
Have you planned a summer vacation yet? If not, it’s the perfect time of year to hop in your car and take a road trip! Make the most of your summer vacation by driving your way through America’s beautiful beach towns, rugged cliffs, stunning mountains, and breathtaking scenery. America has such a wide variety of landscapes and cultures that you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience with any of these amazing adventures.
Pacific Coast Highway, California: About 300 Miles
The Pacific Coast Highway spans the entire length of the West Coast with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and mountains. Heading south to north will guarantee amazing sites the entire way for the driver, but either way you will not be disappointed. Starting in Southern California, you’ll wind your way though a skinny road with ocean views on the left, and mountains on the right. The rest of the world will seize to exist. Once you make your way up to the Big Sur, the soaring redwoods and magnificent mountains will become more stunningly beautiful. Eventually you will cut through San Fransisco’s historic town of Fisherman’s Wharf. With even more to see, this is a trip you want to take your time with.
Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana: About 50 Miles
Middle American can be often forgotten about with the coasts getting most of the attention. But, Going-to-the-Sun Road will make you forget about oceans and the beach. This amazing road cuts through a famously beautiful forest, with lakes, glacial-covered mountain peaks and deep ravines. This tiny two-lane, east-west drive winds through Glacier National Park and promises amazing views from every seat in the car. There’s also a good chance you’ll come across wildlife!
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina: About 450 Miles
This long scenic drive is noted for its beauty. The National Park Service owns the land on either side of the skinny parkway. Cutting through a major mountain chain, part of the Appalachian Mountains, there is plenty to pull over and explore on this long journey. From waterfalls, to hiking trails to peaks over 6,000 ft, to various national parks, Blue Ridge Parkway has so much to take in. For those who can wait, the best time to take this journey is during the Fall- where all the leaves change to beautiful autumn colors.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts: About 160 Miles
You may be a seasoned vet of Cape Cod, having spent your summers there growing up. But “the Cape” stretches across a 160-mile circuit, and there might still be plenty for you to discover. Taking route 6A will take you past the quaint towns of Sandwich, Yarnmouth, Orleans and more. Start in Sagamore, and then head towards to oldest town in the Cape, Sandwich. Continue through the cape and stop at Nickerson State park to hike, swim and bike ride. As you make your way to the end in Provincetown, be sure to enjoy the wonderful restaurants and night life.
Red Rock Country Arizona: About 128 miles
Hit the road on interstate 17 north in Phoenix to see impressively preserved ancient cliff dwellings. One of the cliff dwellings, the Montezuma Castle cliff dwelling, was declared one of the first four national monuments in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. The great trip is an easy way to experience and see a real desert. After you’ve taken in the sites, cool yourself down from Arizona’s hot sun be heading to Slide Rock State park. Hop on 179 North and soon you’ll be sliding down natural water slides carved into the rock!
Route 66. Chicago to Southern California: About 2,400 miles
Route 66 takes the spot for our longest trip on the list. It would take days to complete it but would be an incredible adventure. One of the original highways, it starts from Chicago, cuts through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending at Santa Monica, California. This iconic route gives us a look into bygone America, mom-and-pop diners and a simple way of life that has not changed in decades. From the long list on unique places to visit on this route, the Cadillac Ranch tops as one the craziest to see with painted Cadillacs sticking straight of the ground!
Overseas Highway, Miami to Key West, Florida: About 120 miles
Want to feel like you’re flying just feet above the ocean?? Drive the overseas highway. Starting in Miami, this above ocean highway connects the Florida Keys to the rest of the land. Half the time, it’s just you and the water. Although this trip can be driven in 2 hours, take your time to stop by the seafood dives and tourist traps along the way. For an experience you’ll never forget, take time to stop and swim with the dolphins at the Theater of the Sea in Islamorada.
Black River Scenic Byway, Michigan: About 12 miles
Often overlooked by ocean lovers, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula provides an amazing road trip with thick forests, waterfalls and the wonderfully beautiful Lake Superior. The lake views and waterfalls can’t be beat. While the byway is the official scenic route, road-trippers should venture off the route to really experience all the beauty this area has to offer. Following the old roads deep into the woods is the only way to see how beautiful this area really is.
Hill Country Hideaways, Texas: About 200 miles
A road trip to Hill Country Hideaways will wake you back to the wild wild west. From deep canyons, swift rivers and undulating sagebrush plains, you’re sure to feel like you belong in an old western movie. Starting in San Antonia, which considers itself the “Cowboy Capital of the World,” you’ll eventually get your way around some of the coolest, and sparsest, places around Texas. Be sure to visit Utopia. As the name describes, it’s a beautiful paradise with lakes, and rivers. At the end of your journey when you make it to Guadalupe Rivers, ride an inner tube down the river enjoying the warm sunshine.
Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania and Delaware: About 12 miles
The Brandywine Valley might be a short trip, but that doesn’t make it any less worth taking. This scenic countryside was home to the uber-rich American aristocracy of the 20th century. The narrow twisted roads loops through the scenic château countryside where wild flowers grow all around. These amazing summer estates belonged to families such as the Du Pont Family- who may have the most impressive estate on over 900 acres of gorgeous land. To complete this floral filled trip, make sure to visit Longwood Gardens, which includes 20 indoor gardens, an outdoor topiary and spring-fed lakes all on over 1000 acres of land.
Taking a road trip with the kids can really test your patience and planning skills. Fending off constant questions like “Are we there yet?” and “When’s the next bathroom break?” can get old pretty quick, so you’ll want to make sure your kids have plenty of things to occupy their time while in the car. To help you out, we’ve listed some tips that will definitely come in handy if you plan on road tripping with the kids this summer.
Make sure kids are comfy. What your kids are wearing on their road trip can make a big difference to how the trip goes. If kids are uncomfortable you’ll hear about it, probably over and over again. Put them in something that they like to wear such as pajamas or shorts and a t-shirt, and save the dressy clothes for your arrival, odds are something will end up spilling on them anyways during the trip, so at least you won’t dirty up one of their nicer outfits.
Be strategic about your departure time. It may be easier to travel with kids during certain hours of the day, for example, if your kids can sleep through the night in the car, you might want to wait until after dinner and drive through the night so you reach your destination by morning. You’ll probably avoid tons of traffic too, which is always a plus. Working with their schedules, nap times, and meal times will make the trip easier for you and them.
Keep them occupied. This will help you keep your sanity and theirs, make sure you have plenty of coloring books, toys, games, movies, and snacks. You’ll also want to charge any electronics they may use, such as tablets or portable DVD players before you leave.
Be prepared for anything, and we mean ANYTHING. You want to make sure you have a first aid kit, wet wipes, paper towels, extra clothes, diapers, batteries, car chargers, trash bags, a flashlight, and extra drinks and snacks in case the ones you already packed spill.
Take a break. It’s inevitable that little ones and even older ones will want to stretch their legs and take a break from the car. Find a local park and have a picnic so you can have something to eat and they can run around and burn off some energy.
Get kids involved in the trip. If your kids are old enough to suggest landmarks they want to see or places they want to visit, let them! It will make the trip much more enjoyable for them and you may even visit a place that you wouldn’t have chosen on your own, and end up loving it!
Make sure your driver’s license, registration, and insurance are all up to date and haven’t expired. These are all extremely important to have any day, but especially if you’re going to be driving a long distance. If you don’t have a membership to AAA, you may also want to consider that.
With these tips, your next family road trip should go smoothly and be a blast for everyone!
It’s that time of year again, back to school season is here! With back to school comes the return of school buses, school zones, and young kids running here there and everywhere. What does that mean for drivers? It means it’s probably a good idea to refresh your memory when it comes to back to school driving safety, so check out these helpful tips now that back to school season is in full swing.
School Buses – School buses are back on the road and it’s always good to have a quick reminder when it comes to the specific laws around school buses. First off, they have red flashing lights and stop signs to alert drivers when they are about to stop. School pupil transport vehicles have red flashing lights and “SCHOOL BUS” signs on top. They use these signals as warnings letting students on and off. If the lights are on and the sign is out, you MUST stop regardless of which side you’re traveling on, it’s the law. The only exception is if a school bus has stopped on the other side of a divided highway with a barrier between travel directions. That is the only time you do not have to stop. If you violate this law, a first offense can get you a $250 fine or even a license suspension. Be sure to go slow even once the stop signs are away and the lights stop flashing, children can often times run out on the street and surprise you, so proceed with caution.
School Zones – When it comes to school zones, you should not be going any faster than 20 MPH. Be conscious of children crossing the street, riding bikes, school buses, and crossing guards. Keep your foot above the brake at all times and be prepared for anything, children can be unpredictable and may jump out in front of you when you least expect it, so slow down and stay safe on the road.
Crosswalks – When you come to a crosswalk, you must yield to pedestrians as they have the right of way. Look both ways and double check for children in the area. Children may expect to cross at a crosswalk whenever they want, especially if they are young. Some may not look before they cross, so don’t assume that they see you coming. You may think the coast is all clear, but that might be the exact moment a child runs across the street after their toy that rolled into the street. Double and triple check before proceeding with caution near crosswalks, playgrounds, and of course school zones.
Distracted Driving – Distracted driving is dangerous enough as it is, and there’s no reason to be on the phone when you’re driving, but if you’re in a school zone or anywhere near an area that kids gather, it becomes even more dangerous because children have been known to unexpectedly dart across the street, so you need to give the road your full attention. If you’re a new driver under the age of 18, any and all cell phone use while driving is against the law. Texting and any internet related activities are illegal for all drivers, although if you are over 18 it is legal to make a phone call while driving, but try to avoid doing so if you’re in a school zone, near a playground, or any other area where children gather.
Don’t forget to always check and re-check crosswalks before proceeding, go the speed limit or slower in school zones, avoid distracted driving, and be mindful of the laws associated with school buses. We want drivers and of course pedestrians to stay safe on the roads, so keep these tips in mind this back to school season!
If you’re the parent of a young driver, you know how expensive it can be to add them on to your insurance policy. Until drivers reach age 25 or have 6 years of driving experience, they are considered to be “inexperienced drivers” because they are more likely to get into an accident which is why adding them to a policy can dramatically increase the premium. We know what you’re thinking, “If they’re going back to school and not driving a car, there MUST be a way to save on my insurance.” and you would be right! If your child is going back to college and won’t be driving a car while they’re away, there are a few things you can do to lower your premium.
Drop them down to an occasional driver – If your child is going to school miles away and does not need a car while on campus and won’t have access to yours on a regular basis, list them as an occasional driver. What this means is that they will not be the primary driver of any of the insured vehicles on your policy and it’s an easy way to save money on your premium. This is also a good solution in case your child decides to come home for a long weekend or spring break and wants to borrow your car; that way they will still be covered on your policy.
Remove them from your policy – If your child won’t be driving a car at all you can choose to totally remove them from your policy. This means that they will not be covered to drive any of the vehicles on your policy at all. This will save you the most amount of money and is a good idea if your child is going to be away for the majority of the year. If they do decide to come home for the summer and need to drive, you can always add them on to your policy again, it’s a simple change request that won’t take up much of your time.
Student Away At School Discount – If you don’t want to remove your child or drop them down to an occasional driver, look into the student away at school discount. Most carriers offer a 5%-10% discount if your child is away at school, although whether you are eligible or not depends on how far away their school is. The majority of carriers require the school to be at least 100 miles away to receive the discount but it varies, so be sure to contact your carrier and find out if you’re eligible.
Good Student Discount – Parents, if there were ever a time to encourage your kids to make the grade, it’s now! The majority of carriers offer a good student discount, meaning you can typically save 5%-10% on your premium if your child meets the carriers requirements. Typically, they require students to be full time and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 to be eligible, although this also varies from carrier to carrier. All you have to do is send in your child’s transcript and the discount can be applied.
Keep these tips in mind when your child is going back to school, they may end up saving you a significant amount on your premium! When it comes to the student away at school and good student discounts, they can vary from carrier to carrier so be sure to give us a call to find out if you’re eligible and stay safe this back to school season!
In honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness month, we wanted to continue spreading the awareness and give you some tips for talking to your teenager about the dangers of distracted driving. Teens are some of the most frequent texters, tweeters, and social media addicts out there, and phones are staples of our daily lives in today’s world. It can be difficult to put our phones down even for a moment, but in the moment it takes to respond to a text or look at your phone, anything can happen.
Although it can be difficult to unplug from your mobile device while driving, it’s necessary to fully concentrate on the task at hand. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for teenagers. These accidents can be prevented, and talking to your teens and setting a good example for them are some of the most important things you can do for your young driver. The following facts, figures, and tips will come in handy when you sit down with your teen to talk about the dangers of distracted driving.
According to a survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center for drivers ages 16-21, nearly half of the respondents said they had talked on their handheld phone while driving in the past 30 days. Although this statistic is not surprising, it is nevertheless frightening to know that so many drivers on the road are endangering their own lives as well as the lives of other drivers and pedestrians. The majority of drivers acknowledged such behavior as dangerous, but 48% of respondents said they had witnessed a parent talking on their phone while driving in the past 30 days, which is why it’s extremely important to set a good example for your children or any young drivers that you interact with.
It doesn’t hurt that it is illegal in Massachusetts for anyone under the age of 18 to use their cell phone while driving. Remind your children of the penalties associated with distracted driving. The first offense will get you a $100 ticket, plus a potential license suspension. Once your teenager has their license and therefore freedom, they won’t want to lose it. Knowing in the back of their mind that they could potentially lose their license if caught, they will be more likely to think twice before picking up their phone while behind the wheel. You should also remind your young driver how important they are to you, and how much it would affect you if anything ever happened to them. If they understand that their actions can have a serious impact on others, they may be less likely to take unnecessary risks.
Giving your children the facts and talking to them really can make a difference! According to the same survey from the Consumer Reports National Research Center, concern about distracted driving convinced about three fourths of those surveyed to stop or decrease such behavior. More than 60% say they were influenced after reading or hearing about the problem, 40% were convinced by related bans (such as the one here in MA that prohibits any cell phone use by drivers under the age of 18), and almost 30% by their family talking to them. Your actions as a parent can make a huge impact on your child! Young drivers learn by example, so set a good one!
Properly installing a car seat is one of the most important aspects of keeping your child safe while driving. From ensuring you have the right size seat for your car to resources to learn more about carseats for children, the Car Seat Install Checklist from MassDrive will help you keep your little one safe on the road. Download now and stay safe out there with your family!
Back to school season is here! You know what that means? More school buses, student drivers, and school zone speed traps to look out for. In case you need a refresher course on some of the rules of the road we’ve listed a few below, pay close attention, you never know when there might be a pop quiz!
School Zones always come up quickly and it’s important to slow down and follow the speed limit for the safety of the nearby students as well as yourself. Don’t forget:
The speed limit in a school zone is 20 MPH.
School zones have a sign with the posted speed limit and either flashing lights during the hours that the speed limit is in effect, or will state those hours on the school zone sign itself.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for crossing guards or any nearby children that are walking or riding bikes.
Now that students are back in school, school buses are back on the road! Bet you missed seeing them on your morning commute right? Similar to fire trucks, there are a few specific laws that apply to these vehicles while driving:
You must keep a distance of 100 feet between your car and a school bus.
You must come to a complete stop behind the bus if the red lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended, regardless of what side of the road you are on. This is so students entering and exiting the bus can safely cross to either side of the street. You must remain stopped until the lights stop flashing or the stop sign folds back.
A first violation of this law can lead to a license suspension and a fine of $250, so pay attention and keep your distance!
There are a few other laws that we wanted to point out that are good to remember especially when there are more students on the roads:
It is state law to yield to pedestrians at cross walks, whether they are already crossing or waiting to cross.
Drivers under the age of 18 (students, that means you!) are prohibited from using any and all mobile devices while driving, the only exception is to report an emergency.
Junior operators (drivers between the ages of 16 1/2 and 18 who have had their license for less than 6 months) are prohibited from driving between the hours of 12:30 AM – 5:00 AM unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Junior operators are prohibited from carrying passengers under the age of 18 (except for siblings) for the first 6 months of driving, this is an attempt to minimize distractions.
These are some of the most important rules to remember, especially now that students are back on the road! Keep these laws in mind next time you are driving through a school zone, at a crosswalk, or behind a school bus. Although these laws may slow us down at times, they save lives and benefit the students as well as the drivers! Don’t forget to make sure you are properly insured! Contact us at MassDrive for a quote and ask our reps about the different types of coverage you would need to make sure you are totally covered in case of an accident!
When it comes to picking a school for driver’s education, there are a lot of things to look out for! Getting your license is a long and sometimes confusing process, but these schools are designed to help and prepare young drivers for the road. The instructor’s knowledge and driving skills will help lay the foundation for your own skills as a driver so you want to be sure you’re at the right school and getting the best driver’s education possible. Follow these guidelines below to pick the school that’s the best fit for you!
First things first you have to ask yourself what factors are most important to you? Convenience, cost, and location are all important but you want to be sure that you’re receiving a quality education. Make sure that the school has up-to date accreditation, it may seem obvious that a driving school would have the proper credentials, but many requirements need to be updated every year so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There are basically two types of driving schools, professional and public:
Public driving schools are often offered in public high schools in Massachusetts. They are typically offered as a class or as part of a continuing education program sponsored by the local school district. Classes are taught by either high school faculty members or employees of the school district who are RMV licensed instructors. If this is offered in your school, it may be much more convenient and budget friendly than a private professional school.
Professional driving schools are privately owned and both the school and instructors are licensed by the RMV. These schools have a lot of experience in drivers ed and since not every town offers a public driving school it may be your only option. For a listing of both public and professional driving schools in Massachusetts, click here.
Examine the costs of the schools in your area, most schools offer and all-inclusive package usually between $300-$600. Shop around and get different estimates, financially speaking the all inclusive package is definitely the best option if the school offers it.
Before you make a final decision on your driving school, stop by the facility and take a tour. Make sure you ask any and all questions you may have and find out what type of cars they use for road lessons. Do they use small sedans only or can you learn to drive larger cars such as SUVs and trucks?
Don’t forget, drivers education classes are mandatory for all drivers under the age of 18 who wish to obtain their license. If you choose to wait until age 18 to get your license they become optional but are highly encouraged and can even get you a discount on your insurance until you’re 24! Students are required to complete 30 hours of in class instruction and 18 total hours of instruction in a driving training motor vehicle, 12 of which must be completed behind the wheel and 6 of which are observation hours with another student.
Parents, don’t forget to add you new driver to your insurance policy as soon as they get their permit! When making a change on your policy such as this, it will definitely affect your premium so be sure to shop around! Give us a call or click MassDrive for a quote, our agents will work with our carriers to get you the best price possible!
Back to school season has begun and college students are packing their bags and heading back to school where many will be without a car. If your child is on your insurance policy and even if they have their own policy there are certain steps that need to be taken to ensure that you are not overpaying on your policy. These simple changes can save money on your policy and there are even certain discounts that can be applied for students!
If your child is going away to school and will not have access to a car at all, the best thing to do is call up your insurance company and have their operator status changed to “excluded”. Basically this means that your child is still listed on your policy, but is not insured to drive unless you change their operator status back to “included”. Doing this will also save you big bucks, since younger drivers are inexperienced, they typically bring a premium way up, but once you list your student as excluded, your premium will likely go down significantly. However, if they do drive your car while they are listed as an excluded driver and get into an accident, it will not be covered by your insurance.
If your child is going away to school and you choose to keep them on your policy, they are still able to drive and will be covered should they get into an accident, but if they go to school more than 100 miles away most insurance carriers offer an away at school discount.
If your child has their own insurance policy but they won’t be using a car while away at school, it’s best that they keep it active because cancelling a policy can have negative ramifications later. If you do cancel a policy and then attempt to sign up for another one a few months or years down the road, most insurance companies will require you to pay the premium in full. There are some that won’t, however someone that does not have prior insurance will have a higher premium than someone who has maintained insurance. The best thing to do in a situation like this is to have your child maintain their policy, but lower the coverage to as low as possible. If they won’t be using the car, there is no risk of an accident but lowering the coverage will make the payments less expensive.
If your child has their own policy and is driving their car to an out of state school and keeping it there, within 30 days they must get an insurance policy in that state or they will be committing insurance fraud. This means that if they did get into an accident in a state where they are residing but do not have a policy they can potentially be sued for damages. They need to change their license plates but may not be required to change their driver’s license state, however that varies by insurance companies.
Now you know what to adjust on your policy once your child leaves for school, and you also know what they have to do if they have their own policy. However, whether your child has their own policy or not, definitely ask about a good student discount! Most carriers offer a discount if a full time student is on your policy with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and same goes if they have their own policy. So, call up your insurance company and find out exactly what your best option would be! As always, if you are looking for insurance in Massachusetts or New Jersey, give us a call at MassDrive! Our agents would be happy to help you out and we are open until 9PM on weeknights!