Massachusetts Driving


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

Travel Tips For Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel days of the year, friends and family driving across towns, cities, even states to spend the day with their loved ones.  There are a lot of things to keep in mind when traveling, whether you’re taking public transit or driving yourself.   Be sure that you are minmizing stress and maximizing on family time this year with these tips!

  • If you’re driving to visit relatives this year and know you will be going through a toll, consider getting an E-ZPass.  The transponder attaches to the front window of your car and is linked to one of your credit/debit cards or a checking account.  Once you go through the E-ZPass lane when paying a toll, your transponder is scanned and the money is taken right out of your account!  That’s definitely much easier and less time consuming than waiting in line to pay with cash.  If you do plan on paying with cash, try and find out exactly which tolls you will be going through and how much they cost, that way you can have your money ready and waiting when it is your turn to pass through.
  • Plan your route in advance and plan an alternative route should your original option be a traffic nightmare.  Be sure that you have any necessary directions at your disposal either via GPS or designate the front passenger as your navigator.
  • Stressing about traffic?  Not anymore!  Check out our blog on Traffic Apps that will help you save time and avoid the rush when traveling to your intended destination.  No one likes sitting in traffic, but especially not when there’s a huge delicious meal waiting for you!  These apps all have unique qualities so check them out and decide which one is right for you!
  • If you are traveling via the MBTA, the majority of commuter rail and T lines will be operating on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving day itself.  However, the Fairmount, Greenbush, Kingston/Plymouth, and Needham commuter rail lines will not be operating at all on Thanksgiving.  To accomodate riders going to and from Logan Airport, the Silver Line will be adding additional service during peak travel times before the holiday, and continuing until Tuesday, November 27, 2012.   For more detailed information on each specific line,buses, and the ferry click here.
  • If you will be flying during the holiday weekend, allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at the airport and get through security, as there will likely be a large volume of passengers all weekend and lines will be longer.  Also, be sure to check the status of your flight at least 24 hours in advance to be sure that it is scheduled to depart/arrive on time.  You can visit www.massport.com  for a list of arrival/departure info.
  • The most important tip we can offer is don’t drink and drive!  If you plan on having a few drinks designate a driver!  Driving during the holidays is always dangerous because of the extra heavy volume of cars, you don’t want to risk adding alcohol into the mix!
  • Before you head out on your holiday excursion, be sure you are properly insured!  If you have any questions regarding coverages or would like a quote, give us a call at MassDrive!  Any one of our agents would be happy to help you this holiday season!

We want everyone to have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving so follow these tips to be sure you’re staying safe and beating the traffic this holiday!

Photo By: epSos.de

 

 

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

Whether you’re ready or not, winter is coming! Winter driving can be dangerous, so make sure to prepare your car for the season. With this checklist from MassDrive, you’ll be ready for winter driving in no time.

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

Haunted Drives Across The Bay State

 

With Halloween, right around the corner, there’s no better time to head out for a frighteningly fun excursion.  Do you dare go for a drive down these dark, dismal roads that are rumored to be haunted to this day?

Dudley Rd, Billerica – According to legend, Dudley Rd is the location where three nuns were hanged for practicing witchcraft.  Their convent, Daughters of Saint Paul, is still up and running today and if you dare you can take a ride down this public road and see it for yourself.  Some of the nuns attempted to run and hide in a field down the road before being found and hanged, and you can still see this field today.  Allegedly, a house was built on the location where the nuns were hanged  and had to be abandoned months later due to the fact that it began to sink into the ground.  Legend has it that you can still see this house if you drive down the road today, however you will have to look carefully, as it has sunken into the ground up to the second floor window.  Tread cautiously if you do decide to visit, there have been reports of being followed and haunted by these spirits.

Bridge Rd, Gardner – If you are coming off of Route 68 in Gardner, keep your eyes peeled for a tree on your left that is marked with a large red “X”.  The tree marks the location where a woman was killed in a car crash in 1995 due to an icy road.  It is said that you can see a white figure haunting the road that follows drivers until they pass the second cemetery on Route 68, headed into Baldinville.  Take a drive down here if you dare, maybe you will be one of the “lucky ones” who catches a glimpse of this eerie figure.

Beaver Brook Road, Littleton – There have been multiple reports of a ghostly farmer haunting this, all well as surrounding roads in the area.  The reports received enough attention that the local newspaper ran an article and did some research which lead them to discover that there was actually a farmer that had been killed on that road in the past.  Sightings of this farmer have only happened at night, do you dare venture out for a midnight ride to Littleton to potentially catch a glimpse of this haunted apparition?

Ghost Road, Milton – This haunted road runs through the Blue Hills in Milton known as Ghost Road.  This area of the Blue Hills used to be Indian territory, and although half of the road does have houses on it, the other side runs along miles of dark desolate woods.  It is rumored that Ghost road is haunted by a family that can be seen wandering along the side of the road in the middle of the night.  In addition to these sightings, visitors have reported getting chills and feeling as though they’re being watched by someone….spooky.

Route 67, New Braintree – Take a drive along Route 67 one dark night and you may catch a glimpse of Elsie, the ghost rumored to wander this road in search of her long lost husband.  The legend is that she was killed in a car accident on that road the night of her wedding while out looking for her future husband.  She is said to wander the road in her wedding dress, and has only been seen on the night of what would have been her wedding anniversary, April 21st.  Even though her anniversary is still months away, you never know what spirits are up and about with All Hallow’s Eve right around the corner!

Route 44, Rehoboth – Route 44 is home to not one, but two ghostly apparitions.  The first ghost is that of a red-headed hitchhiker who is said to terrorize drivers who go by on dark, lonely nights and has been known for “frightening acts”.  The second ghost haunts the cemetery off of Route 44.  The cemetery is said to be haunted by an old man who screams and pounds on car windows until they drive off in fear, what’s extra spooky is that he has been known to scream for a “Catherine”.

Whether you believe these legends or not is up to you, but if you’re looking for an adventure this Halloween take a drive along one of these haunted roads, but remember, you’ve been warned.  If you do visit one of these haunted destinations, please be respectful of personal and private property, many of these areas are heavily patrolled by law enforcement and trespassers will be prosecuted.

Source: TheShadowlands

Photo By: elbragon

Fall Driving Tips

Now that fall is officially here, there are some important tips to remember when it comes to driving.  With the change of seasons comes a change in driving conditions, and there are important rules of the road to remember for each time of year.  Even though we are not yet dealing with snow on the ground (knock on wood),  there are other dangers to watch out for and work around while driving.  These tips will give you a quick refresher on what exactly to look out for:

Wet Leaves – The brightly colored leaves on the trees are one of the most beautiful parts of the season, however once they begin to fall off the trees we have a problem.  Wet leaves are extremely slick and can be just as dangerous as ice on the road.  They reduce traction making it easier to skid out or hydroplane if it’s raining.  Another hazard?  They can also cover up the yellow and white lines that divide lanes which limits visibility and creates dangerous conditions for yourself and others on the road.  Treat slick leaves on the road as you would ice, drive slowly and cautiously and be extra aware of other drivers.  Being a defensive driver could save your life, even if you are obeying all of the rules of the road, other drivers may not be.  Stay alert and watch for any unsafe behavior such as speeding or weaving in and out of lanes, especially when there are wet leaves on the ground.

Frost – Hard to believe it but sooner than later we will be waking up to a fresh coat of frost on our windshields.  You know what that means?  Stocking our cars with ice scrapers and turning up the defroster!  Make sure that you’re prepared for your morning commute, there’s nothing worse that running late because you have to wait for your windshield to defrost.  Now that it’s getting colder, frost will not only accumulate on your windshield but in cold, wet areas on the road as well.  Be especially cautious near bridges with water underneath them.  The combination of cold air and the water underneath the bridge causes the temperature of that part of the road to drop lower than other areas of the road, creating black ice.  Areas underneath overpasses can also be dangerous because they get little to no sunlight.  Pay extra close attention during the early morning and evening hours, typically the darkest and coldest times of day.

Driving In The Dark – We lose a minute of sunlight each day in the fall, and until we turn our clocks back in October it will only keep getting darker earlier at night and later in the morning.  After enjoying the daylight until about 9 PM in the summer months, it can be quite an adjustment driving in the dark on your way home from work now that fall is here.  As the days pass it is only going to get darker sooner, so don’t forget to adjust your headlights both in the morning and at night.  This is especially important in thickly settled districts, it will be much harder to see children playing outside, bike riders, and even people doing yard work outside once it starts to get dark in the early evening.  Remember to adjust your headlight accordingly if you don’t have automatic ones, and be extra cautious when driving during the dark evening hours.

Prepare Your Car For Winter – It’s never too early to be prepared!  Winterizing your car is a process that takes multiple steps and it’s never too early to start!  As we mentioned earlier, make sure you have an ice scraper in your car so that you’re prepared for any frost that may potentially slow your commute.  You should also set aside some time to have your vehicle looked at by a professional, make sure the brakes, heater, lights, battery, fluids, and defroster are all working.  You don’t want to be stranded or have any car troubles when the temperatures drop!  We will post even more tips to winterize your car once the snowy season is closer, but for now these tasks will set you on your way to a winterized vehicle ready to take on the snow!

As always, one of the most important tips we can offer is to make sure you are properly insured.  Accidents are much more likely to occur during the colder months due to slick roads, which is why it’s so important to make sure you are covered!  Give us a call or click MassDrive to get a quote from one of our agents today!

Photo By: visualthinker

 

Best Fall Foliage Drives In New England

The time for apple picking, pumpkin carving, cider drinking, and crisp fall breezes is right around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than by taking a scenic drive through New England to admire all of the beautiful foliage?  It may be a bit early right now, but the leaves are already beginning to change and it won’t be long before the trees are completely red, yellow, and orange.  Get your weekend plans in order and organize a few day trips to some of these stops, the views are breathtaking and there are other fun attractions to check out along the way!

The Berkshires – This is THE place to be if you want to experience anything and everything related to fall.  The Berkshire mountains span across western Massachusetts and offer one of the most scenic rides in New England. Take a ride to the top of Mount Greylock along New England’s first official scenic road, the views can’t be beat!  It is Massachusetts’ tallest peak (3,491 ft) and also features foot trails for hikers.  That’s not all that the Berkshires have to offer, there are many fall themed attractions including hiking, apple picking, pumpkin picking, or try some hard apple cider after a brisk walk outside.  If you’re there from September 22-30 check out the Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Festival in North Adams, MA.  There are events taking place throughout the week including crafts, farmers markets, parades, and numerous other events.  What better way to spend a fall day?

White Mountains, NH – The White Mountains are spread across New Hampshire and have many winding roads that will bring you on a beautiful ride.  Drive up Route 16 to North Conway, a small town in the heart of the White Mountains which features small country stores, outlet shopping, and last but not least the Conway Scenic Railroad which offers roundtrip train rides where you will experience all of the beauty that the White Mountains has to offer.  Nearby is the infamous Kancamagus Highway, a windy road with many scenic viewpoints along the way that will bring you to Lincoln, NH home to Clark’s Trading Post where they train native black bears to recycle, ride segways, play basketball, and entertain guests of all ages.  Franconia Notch State Park is also nearby and is the perfect place to get in touch with nature and go for a hike.  This ride is a little over 2 hours from Boston but has some of the most colorful and beautiful foliage in New England, we definitely suggest you take a drive up north this fall!

Green Mountains, VT – If you’re looking for a leisurely, rustic getaway this is your chance.  The Green Mountains in Vermont are one of the most popular areas to view fall foliage in New England.  The 400,000 acre Green Mountain National Forest follows Route 7 and brings you by major skiing areas such as Mt. Snow, Killington, and Sugarbush, all while taking you through some of the most scenic nooks and crannys that Vermont has to offer.  Don’t have any particular sights in mind?  Why not branch off down a road you have never been down before (only if you have GPS) and see where it takes you?  There’s nothing more fun than getting lost in nature, you really appreciate your surroundings and if you have nowhere to be it’s a lot of fun!  For those of you that are feeling really adventurous, the Ben and Jerry’s Factory is about a two hour drive from here and hosts tours daily.

These scenic drives all promise beautiful sights, fall foliage, and exciting activities and tourist stops to keep you entertained.  So pack up the car and hit the road, peak foliage season is right around the corner!

Photo By: kimberlykv

 

School’s Back In Session, Don’t Forget These Rules Of The Road!

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!

Photo By: Svadilfari

 

 

 

 

 

Student Driver? Follow These Guidelines To Find The Best School For You!

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!

Photo By: ChuckSchultz

Stuck In Traffic? Not Anymore With These Apps!

No one likes sitting in traffic, especially after a long day at work or when you have somewhere important to be.  Luckily, we live in the age of technology  and app stores are constantly rolling out their latest developments to help consumers beat the traffic!  So how do you choose which one is right for you?  We’ve looked into the top apps and summarized the best features of each so you can decide which will work best for you.

Sigalert.com – This app by far sounds like the most user friendly and accurate Traffic app out there.  While most apps are scheduled to update every hour or so, Sigalert.com constantly updates with state highway patrols’ data and uses road sensors for accurate readings.  It is the most up to date traffic app and the best thing about it is that it’s free!  It also provides great details, not only does it tell you  if the traffic is caused by an accident or construction, but it also estimates travel times for your destination based on speed and traffic.  You can zoom in or click on the maps provided, and they even list accurate speeds for each exit on the highway.  This app has traffic details for most metropolitan areas and is adding more areas each month.

USA Traffic and Weather – Personally, I think that this app can be the most useful once it works out all of the kinks.  It costs $0.99 and combines Yahoo and user generated traffic updates with a 7-day weather forecast, which is everything you need to know before you head out on your daily commute.  The concept is great but user reviews describe it as being somewhat inaccurate when it comes to the weather forecast, however this app does rely on Yahoo! for weather updates so changing their weather provider could solve that problem. For users that are having technical difficulties, the author has provided his email address right on the app itself, how cool is that?  Users have commented that he provides almost instant support and posts updates if the app is down.  Although there are some glitches, this app can be very useful and a new update is in the works which will hopefully address many of the user complaints.

Waze social GPS and Traffic – Waze is a very cool app because it combines traffic updates with social media.  It’s been described as “Foursquare for driving”  and allows users to post updates on traffic, construction, and speed traps.  The social media aspect of this app makes it more fun to use than apps that simply provide traffic navigation tips and users can start off as a novice and work their way up to traffic expert.  You can also build up points based on miles driven and the amount of traffic reports you submit.   In terms of avoiding traffic, it is similar to most apps out there and can calculate your commute time, provide alternate routes, and alert you to potential traffic causing incidents on your route.  The only con to this app is that is relies solely on user updates and is not synced up to any government traffic source.

INRIX Traffic – According to Apple, this is the industry’s #1 free app that helps you avoid traffic and frustration.  It features the best route to home and work and shows you which route is best to avoid traffic.  Routes are based on data from nearly 100 million drivers and this app can even recommend departure times to ensure that you arrive at your destination on schedule.  You can also easily email your scheduled INRIX arrival time to any of your contacts with just a few clicks.  It consistently gets great reviews from users and its most recent update on August 15, 2012 makes it more accurate than ever!

These apps all have unique features that appeal to different users.  Waze connects you to others and is somewhat like a game, Sigalert.com has constant updates for when you’re in a rush, USA Traffic and Weather is convenient because of the information it provides, and INTRIX Traffic is free and highly rated by users.  Decide which one is right for you and try it out, saving yourself the frustration of rush hour is definitely worth it!

Photo By: lostinfog

 

 

Is Your Child Going Back To School? Find Out What You Need To Adjust On Your Insurance!

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!

Photo By: Siena College

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