Massachusetts Driving


Talking To Your Teen About Distracted Driving

teen driver

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!

Photo By: State Farm

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

distracted driving

The National Safety Council is recognizing April as distracted driving awareness month!  Many of us are guilty of it, but distracted driving is a dangerous habit that does not only jeopardize the person who is driving, but also anyone else on the road in that vicinity.  When you take a second to pick up your phone or read a text, you take your eyes off of the road for the split second it takes for an accident to occur. Thousands of people die every year because of distracted driving, help spread awareness this April, and set a good example for your own friends and family to follow!

So, how can you help?  First, you can take the pledge to drive cell free.  Starting with your own habits is the best way to end distracted driving, and from there you can convince others to follow your lead.  Did you know that the NSC estimates that 25% of car crashes involve cell phone use?  Those crashes are entirely preventable, and driving is a task that requires the driver’s undivided attention.  Drivers need to have their hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and brain focused on driving.  All three of those things are necessary to drive safely, and ANY cell phone use behind the wheel(even hands free)  is dangerous.

So what else can you do?  Spread the word!  Tell your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone who will listen about the dangers of distracted driving!  If someone calls you while they’re driving, tell them to call you back once they reach their destination.  There are many common myths and misconceptions about distracted driving, and although many people think they can multi-task, it is impossible for the brain to focus on the conversation you are having as well as the road.  You can read more about distracted driving myths in this infographic from the NSC called The Great Multitasking Lie.

If you’re wondering why cell phone use is being targeted as such a dangerous distraction while driving, it’s because there are many more drivers being distracted by cell phone use than anything else!  How often do you see someone putting on makeup or digging around in their car for something?  Definitely not as often as someone is on their cell phone, in fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about 9% of all drivers are talking on their cell phones at any given daylight moment.  This fact sheet from the NSC has more information regarding the scary truths about distracted driving.

Here in Massachusetts, certain types of distracted driving are even illegal.  Using your phone for texting or any internet-related activity is illegal for all drivers in the state, but drivers under 18 are prohibited from any and all cell phone use while driving.  What happens if you get caught texting and driving?  The fine for a first offense is $100, and after that it only goes up.  A second offense will get you a ticket for $250, and after that $500!  Sending a quick text can get pretty pricey if you get caught!  Police officers are having a difficult time enforcing the law, but they are employing new methods to catch distracted drivers!  You can read more about these methods and driving laws here.

If you’re not fully convinced of the dangers of distracted driving, the NSC has compiled these stories from family members of distracted driving victims, the sad thing is that these incidents could have been prevented if the driver simply ignored their phone.  So take the pledge, and start spreading the word about distracted driving this April!

Photo By: OregonDOT

 

Prepare Your Car For Spring!

spring driving

Don’t you feel like we just told you how to prepare your car for winter?  Well it’s officially spring (even if it doesn’t feel like it), and there are a few small tips you should follow when it comes to your car and the change of seasons.  These small preparations can prevent serious damage, and if you do notice an issue with your car, you can fix it before it causes more damage to yourself or your vehicle.

  • Tires – You need to keep a close eye on your tires right after winter.  This winter has been especially treacherous in terms of snow and ice, so your tires have definitely taken a beating.  Check the tread and make sure your tires aren’t bald, you want to have plenty of traction when the April showers begin.  You should also check the air pressure and make sure it is at the level recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, which can be found in your owner’s manual.  Finally, if you’re using snow tires, switch them over to summer tires or all season tires.
  • Fluids – It is very important to make sure the fluids in your vehicle are all at the proper levels.  Most fluid bottles have a dipstick or fill line so you know exactly how much is needed, if you’re not sure which fluid bottles are where, your owner’s manual most likely has a guide.  The most important fluid to check is the windshield wiper fluid!  A lot of this can get used up during the winter months, when your car is at its dirtiest and you’re constantly trying to see out your window so make sure you atleast check that fluid level.
  • Windshield Wipers – Speaking of your windshield, check those wipers!  Snow and ice can do some serious damage to your wiper blades after a long, snowy winter.  Now that it’s spring, consider investing in a new pair if your current ones have some damage.  Cars usually have specific sized blades so bring your current wiper blade with you when you go shopping for new ones, that way the associate can find an exact match.  You don’t want to get caught in the rain with a faulty pair of wipers, not only is it dangerous for you, it’s also dangerous for other drivers on the road if you can’t clearly see your surroundings.
  • Belts and Hoses – We know not everyone is a mechanic, but anyone can check a few basic things under the hood.  First, check the belts that you see, pull on them and if they’re loose, take your car over to your local mechanic and have him take a look at them.  When it comes to hoses, check for any visible cracks or leaks that you may see.  If you catch certain problems early enough, it can prevent you from having to pay an arm and a leg for a major repair down the road.
  • Spring Cleaning – Spring time means spring cleaning!  Take your car over to your local car wash and get it spruced up.  All of the slush and salt on the roads during the winter can get your ride looking pretty grimy by the time spring rolls around, so get it looking shiny and new with a fresh wash and wax.  You may also want to consider getting the interior cleaned too, nothing like a little spring cleaning to get yourself organized.

Now that spring has sprung, take a look at these tips and see how many apply to your vehicle.  If you’re unsure about anything under the hood, it’s best to take it to your mechanic for a check up just to ensure everything is running smoothly.  Taking your car in for a check up or to have preventative measures taken is the best way to save your money and prevent serious and expensive damage down the road, so follow these tips and keep your car looking shiny and new for another season!

Photo By: fauxto_digit

 

 

Boston RMV Moving from Chinatown to Haymarket

The Boston RMV is moving, according to transportation officials. The Boston branch, currently located in Chinatown will be moving to a space in Haymarket located above what will be an indoor food market in an office building to be completed next year. It will replace the Chinatown branch and serve as the “flagship” for Massachusetts RMVs.

Source: http://www.metro.us/boston/

Save At The Pump With These Gas Station Finder Apps!

gas station

I’m sure all of you have noticed the recent spike in prices at the pump.  We know that every penny counts, especially if you are a frequent driver which is why we’ve come up with a list of the top gas station finder apps!  Check these out and scroll through the listings of nearby stations until you find the best price available. Prices don’t appear to be changing any time soon (unless they keep going up) so download one of these apps and start saving!

GasBuddy – If you’re against paying for a gas app, this is the one for you.  GasBuddy has all of the typical components of a gas app, it utilizes the GPS in your smartphone to determine your location and the location of gas stations in your area.  It lists the gas prices and also lists any amenities at the station such as bathrooms, pay at pump, and food.  You can sort your search results by price or by distance if you’re simply looking for the closest station.  Once you select the station you want to visit, you can get directions to the gas station via the iOS’s built-in Maps app.  Users can create accounts with this app and update prices and amenities of the gas stations in the area.  This is a great resource, however, updates are not always timely or accurate and sometimes nearby gas stations are missing from the list all together.

SmartFuel – This is one of the best gas station finder apps out there, IF you are willing to pay.  You do get a free 30 day trial with this app, but after the 30 days is up you need to subscribe to the service, which ranges from $4.99 for 6 months, to $14.99 for 24 months.  While the price can be a turn off, if you subscribe for 24 months that only costs about 62 cents per month.  If you’re a frequent driver you will likely save more than that by using the app anyway!  Reviews describe this app as being highly accurate, and drivers can even bookmark their routes to make the search process easier.  The listings even have the prices for all types of gas at the station, whether it be regular, mid-grade, premium unleaded, diesel, or E85 ethanol.  If you’re willing to pay, this app could save you big bucks in the long run.

Fuel Finder – Fuel Finder has the same features mentioned in the apps above; nearby stations based on GPS, directions to these gas stations, and pricing of course.  Nearby stations are displayed in a list or as nearby points on a map, and you can search up to 10 miles away.  Fuel Finder does have a very unique feature called “On Fumes” which really sets it apart from other apps.  This feature is something you can utilize when you’re running extremely low on gas.  You simply tap the “On Fumes” button and it will provide you with directions to the nearest gas station regardless of price, and also provides a directory with phone numbers to helpful services such as AAA and insurance company help lines.  While you don’t have to subscribe, you do have to pay a one time fee of $2.99 to download the app.  While it does have occasional errors and sometimes fails to list certain gas stations it is typically reliable and the “On Fumes” feature is something you won’t find in other apps.

RoadAhead – Not only does this app provide you with listings for the nearest gas stations sorted by price, but it also lists nearby hotels, rest stops, and restaurants!  If you’re on a long drive, this app will definitely come in handy if you’re looking for a snack or need to use the restroom.  The app typically relies on GPS to locate you, however if you can’t get a signal you can select the state you’re in, the highway you’re on, and the next exit.  Some complaints about this app are that the GPS sometimes fails and there are occasional crashes.  If you can deal with that, then this app is a great resource whether you are driving cross country or just on a day trip to the beach.  The best part?  It’s free!

Once you decide which app is right for you, download it and hit the road!  All of these apps will help you find the nearest gas station, or you can sort through them by price.  Whichever one you choose, you will definitely be thankful you have it when you need to fill up!

Photo By: valeehill

 

 

 

Who’s the Better Driver? Men or Women?

Ah, the age old battle of the sexes. While you may have your own theories about which is the better driver, let’s let the facts speak for themselves. This infographic gives some great insight… so who is it gonna be?

Women's car insurance from Direct Line Direct Line Car Insurance

Make Sure Your Car Is Ready For This Cold!

My goodness, it is a COLD one out there today. If you have to travel today, I hope it is not far and that you get there safe and warm! One way to help make sure you’ll arrive at your destination safe and warm is to ensure that your car is properly winterized. Cold weather, ice and snow present your car with challenges you didn’t have to think about during the summer months. Use this checklist to make sure your car is up-to-date and ready for these freezing temps!

Winterize Your Car: A Checklist for Getting Your Vehicle Ready for the Snowy Season by MassDrive

Perfect Car Gift Ideas Right In Time For Christmas!

For all of you trying to squeeze in some last minute shopping before Christmas, have you thought about getting some car related gifts for your loved ones?  Many of us (especially the men in our lives) love our cars.  It’s not too often that people get to splurge and deck out their ride, especially when everyone is so busy decking the halls this time of year.  Why not pick out one of these items for the car lover in your life, it’s a nice thought and they will be sure to think of you (in a good way), next time they go out for a drive!

Emergency Kit – This idea is practical and easy to make on your own if you don’t want to risk ordering it and not having it delivered in time for Christmas.  There are many different great brands available on Amazon and it is convenient having a kit already put together, but if you want to guarantee that it will be here in time for Christmas then why not build your own?  The majority of these items can be found at your local hardware store and typically include; a reflective vest, first aid kid, jumper cables, roadside flares, blanket, flashlight with extra batteries, all in one screwdriver, bungee cord, extra quart of oil, tire pressure gauge, duct tape, a pocket knife, and some bottled water and energy bars should you get stranded for a while.  This is something every driver should have in their car and the recipient will definitely be glad they have it should they break down this winter!

Phone Gadgets – These days, people use their phones for everything!  Directions, music, and of course communicating with friends and family are a must, and there are so many cool accessories out there that make it easier than ever!  One great item that anyone would love is an iPod or MP3 Player Car Connector, it allows drivers to plug this device into their car and then connect it to their iPod or MP3 player and enjoy their own music without having to sit through commercials on the radio!  There are many different types of adapters, for older cars, the easiest one to use is most likely a cassette adapter which is put into a tape player like a tape, and has a cord that connects to the audio jack on your listening device.  There are many additional options for newer cars that do not have a cassette player, and BestBuy has a great selection of adapters that would work for all cars and MP3 players.  Another great gift idea?  A docking station that allows drivers to mount their phone on their dashboard lets drivers to keep their phone in view and easily accessible, BestBuy has a great selection of these as well.

GPS – This is something that every car owner should have!  You never know when you may find yourself headed down a dark unfamiliar road, and in that situation you would definitely want to avoid getting lost and driving in circles.  This would also be a great gift if you know someone who is moving or going away to college in a different state.  Some of the most popular brands are Garmin, TomTom, and Magellan and prices typically range from $100-$200 although there are some that are more expensive and have advanced features.  This article from CNet outlines the top 5 GPS navigation devices on the market this year and details their features and benefits which makes your research much easier!

Accessories – We know that guys are not exactly concerned with picking out the perfect belt or watch to wear out on Friday night, but when it comes to cars they love accessories as much as the ladies so you can’t go wrong with some car bling this year.  Why not grab some classic sheepskin seat covers or a steering wheel cover?  Floor mats are also a great gift to help keep the car clean.  You can usually find them with some type of design on them if you so desire, and guys will love the selection of sport-themed floor mats that you can find on sportsfloormats.com.  They have mats with the logos from the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, NCAA and even Military themed mats.

You can’t go wrong with any of these gifts, all of them are practical and easy to use, even for those that aren’t so tech savvy.  These are also great options for last minute gifts if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, so get out to the stores and finish up that holiday shopping before time runs out!

Photo By: AMagill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Driving Tips

snow driving

Whether you’re excited for the snow or not, it’s important to be sure you are staying safe!  Keep these tips in mind when venturing out into the snow this winter, for many of you these tips are refreshers but it’s always good to have a reminder to stay safe!

  • If you must venture out onto icy or snowy roads, wait until after the sand trucks and plows have gone by.  They should be able to break down the worst of the snow and will make it much easier for you in the long run.  Even if you have to wait a while for them to service your street, trying to drive on roads that have not been plowed or sanded is not only dangerous, but will take much longer anyways so staying inside until the plows and sanding trucks have gone by is worth the wait.
  • If you are on the road with plows and sanding trucks, DO NOT try to pass them.  Many of them have limited visibility, especially if it is snowing out.  Even though they are pretty slow, the plus side to being behind one of these trucks is that the road will be freshly plowed or sanded and that much easier to navigate.
  • Give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination, there is no doubt that the snow or ice on the road will slow you down or create traffic, so be sure to leave with plenty of time to spare.
  • Decrease your speed and leave more than enough room between yourself and the car in front of you in case you have to stop.  You don’t want to skid out on  ice and rear end the person in front of you, an accident in which you would be at fault!
  • Ride the brake when driving in snow or ice, it will help you avoid skidding out and will keep you at a safe speed!  If you do start to skid out or your wheels lock up, slowly ease up on the brake until you come to a stop.
  • If there is any type of precipitation, make sure that your lights are on.  Even if it is still light out,  rain or snow can limit visibility for many drivers so you want to make every effort to remain visible on the road.
  • If you know in advance that it’s going to snow, be sure that your windshield wipers are working properly, you don’t want to get caught in the middle of a storm with a malfunctioning wiper blade!
  • Make sure you have an ice scraper in your car!  You don’t want to get stuck waiting inside your car while the defroster melts the ice on your windows.
  • Be extra careful on bridges and overpasses, these tend to freeze first and even though there may not be any ice on other parts of the road, these areas are notorious for black ice so reduce your speed and remain aware when traveling over these.
  • If your vehicle has four-wheel drive, use it!  It may use up more gas but will make your commute through the snow much easier and will provide more traction and decrease your chances of skidding out.

The most important piece of advice we can offer is to stay indoors!  Don’t drive on roads that are snowy and icy unless you absolutely must, and if you do then make sure that you are properly insured and know who to call should anything happen!  If you have any questions or would like a quick quote give us a call at MassDrive!  Our agents would be happy to answer any and all questions you may have and will make every effort to get you the lowest premium possible!

Special thanks to weather.com for many of these tips!

Photo By: Ruthanne Reid

 

Car Seat Installation Checklist

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!

Installing a Car Seat Checklist

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