Massachusetts News


Things To Do During A Power Outage

reading

Whether they’re caused by snow, rain, intense wind gusts, or another force of nature, power outages are a fact of life.  They may happen more often than we would like them to, but it’s always good to be prepared for them, especially if you have children.  It’s easy to get bored without modern conveniences, whether you’re a child or adult!  Next time you’re stuck at home without electricity, keep these ideas in mind so you don’t catch a case of cabin fever.

  • Build a fort.  No matter how old you are, this is always a fun activity.  Grab spare sheets, pillows, chairs, and whatever else you need to make an epic fort where you can hide out for the rest of the day.
  • Read a book.  Whether it’s a story for your children or you’re catching up on a novel you’ve been putting off reading because you’ve been binge watching a series on Netflix, grab a book and enjoy being unplugged for a while.
  • Play a game.  Great news!  There are games outside of Candy Crush and Farmville!  Remember years ago when people used to play board games?  Pull those out from the attic and teach the kids how to play some of the old classics like Yahtzee, Sorry, Jenga, and whatever else you have in the house.  Cards are great options too!
  • Bake from scratch.  How often do you take the time to actually bake something from scratch?  It’s always easy to buy the pre-boxed cookie dough or brownies, but since there isn’t much else to do why not bake it the old fashioned way?
  • Have a DIY day.  Making something from scratch is always fun, not only does it keep you entertained for a good amount of time but then you get to keep your creation afterwards!
  • Clean the house.  There’s always something that could be cleaned!  No better time than the midst of a blackout when there’s not much else to do.
  • Build a fire.  If it’s chilly outside, this is a great way to keep your house warm and provide some light.  You may even want to break out the marshmallows and make some s’mores.
  • Raid the fridge.  Since the perishable items may go bad anyway, take advantage of the situation and pig out without feeling bad about it.  Grab all the ice cream and have a sundae party!  If the weather permits invite your neighbors to come join in on the fun.
  • Makeover.  Need we say more?  Ladies it’s the perfect time to try out that new makeup trick you’ve been thinking about, or test out a new hair style.  Plan out all of your outfits for the upcoming week, and try pairing new things together that you normally wouldn’t.  Who knows, you could come out of a power outage rocking a whole new look!
  • Take a nap.  There’s not any better time to sleep than when you have no distractions to wake you up.  Catch up on your sleep while the lights are out so that when they come back on you’re ready to get back to business.

Now that you have some ideas to keep you from being bored to death during the next power outage, print this out and keep it on hand! We hope these ideas come in handy whether you’re stuck inside with kids or on your own, enjoy the next power outage!

Photo By: Henry Burrows

Protect Your Home While You’re On Vacation

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Going away on vacation?  You probably just want to focus on all of the fun and relaxation you’ll be doing, but it’s important to take certain precautions before you leave, especially when it comes to your home.  If burglars realize that your house is going to be empty for a few days, this can make it a target.  You wouldn’t want to come home from a spectacular vacation only to find your home ransacked and your belongings missing.  Follow these tips to protect your home if you plan on being away for a few days.

  • Do not post on social media that you will be traveling.  This is a very easy way to make your home a target, as you never know who may see this post.  Friends of friends may have access to your posts depending on your privacy settings and it makes it known that your home will be unoccupied for a significant amount of time.
  • Make sure all doors and windows are locked.  If you leave any openings unlocked, you’re making it easy for burglars to enter your home.  Thieves are more likely to find another target if your doors and windows are locked.
  • Set your lights on a timer so that they go on and off throughout the day and night, making it look like someone is home.  You should also make sure you have outdoor lights on a timer as well so that your yard is well-lit at night.  If your yard is well-lit at night, it makes it more risky to break in because there is a greater chance of being seen, especially if you live on a busy street with a lot of cars driving by.
  • Tell neighbors you will be away.  That way they can keep an eye out for any suspicious activity or strangers going on to the property.
  • Ask a neighbor or friend to pick up your mail and newspapers so that it looks like someone is coming and going.  If newspapers and mail pile up outside, it makes it obvious that no one has been home for a while, making your home a target.
  • Leave a car parked in the driveway.  If you are not able to do this, ask a friend or neighbor to park their car in your driveway every so often, making it appear as though someone is inside.
  • Make sure all valuables are not in sight.  If a burglar were to peek in your windows and not see anything of value, they will be more likely to move on.
  • If you plan on being away for a long period of time, hire someone to mow your lawn and keep up with your yard.
  • If you do not have an alarm system, consider investing in o y.  At the very least find an alarm company sign to put up outside, even if you don’t have a security system, the sign may be enough of a deterrent to convince burglars to move one.
  • If you have any keys hidden on your property, do not leave them out while you are away.
  • Store jewelry or other small valuables in a safe hiding place while you are gone.  A security deposit box is a great option if possible.
  • Make sure to keep a list of all valuables and other important information such as serial numbers.  This information will be useful in the event that you are the victim of a robbery and will also be useful in the recovery of stolen items.

If you take these precautions before going on vacation, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your time away knowing that your home, and your valuables are protected.

Shoveling Safety Tips

shoveling

When you think of going outside to shovel, it may seem like more of an inconvenience than a potentially dangerous activity, but believe it or not people are injured shoveling every single winter.  Whether it’s something as small as a strained muscle, or something as serious as a heart attack, injuries from shoveling are more common than you think, so keep these tips in mind and stay safe this winter!

  • Do not shovel if you’re not capable.  If you are older, out of shape, overweight, have issues with back pain or a history of heart problems, you shouldn’t be shoveling.  Save yourself the trouble and have a younger, healthier person do the dirty work while you make some hot chocolate indoors.  Another option is to purchase a snow blower, you’ll still have to go outside in the cold to clear the snow, but you won’t be at risk for straining your back or heart.
  • Warm up.  Like any physical activity, you’re supposed to warm up your muscles and stretch before you begin.  Shoveling is no different.  It can be extremely strenuous especially if there is a lot of snow on the ground, so make sure to do some warm up stretches to loosen up your muscles before you begin.
  • Use the right shovel.  You don’t want to use a shovel that is too heavy or with too large of a blade.  If you use a shovel with too large of a blade, your load will be extremely heavy and can put extra strain on your back and heart.  It’s also a good idea to get a shovel with either a wooden or plastic handle, as metal handles can get too cold.
  • Bundle up.  It’s important to wear the proper clothing when you shovel so you’re not at risk for hypothermia or frostbite.  Make sure your head, hands, and feet are all covered.  Your winter boots should be water-proof, warm, high-cut, and provide good traction so you don’t slip and fall.  It’s also a good idea to wear clothing that allows perspiration to escape from the skin surface.  If the temperature is in the negatives, don’t go outside to shovel until it warms up.
  • Pace yourself.  Like any physical activity, you need to pace yourself.  Even though you may want to get shoveling over with and get inside as quickly as possible, being safe is more important.
  • Make shoveling easier on yourself.  Push the snow to the sides of your driveway instead of lifting it, this makes it much easier on your back.  If you must lift the snow to get it out of the way, lift with your legs to avoid straining your back.  When you do throw the snow, do not throw it over your shoulder or to the side, face the direction you are throwing in, don’t twist to the side as this can also strain your muscles.
  • Do not push yourself, if you’re feeling winded or tired, take a break.  It’s better to be safe than sorry and avoid a potential injury.
  • Take time to cool down when you’ve finished shoveling.  It’s important to go inside to rest and warm up as soon as you’ve finished shoveling.  Make yourself some hot chocolate and relax with your favorite book or TV show to get warm and show your heart rate.

There’s definitely more snow to come this year so keep these tips in mind next time you need to shovel and stay safe!

Photo By: oddharmonic

shoveling

Avoid Scams This Tax Season

taxes

Is there anything more confusing than doing your taxes?  Okay maybe there is, but taxes are pretty high up on the list.  As if this time of year weren’t confusing enough, you also have to be on the look out for tax related scams that could really start your year off on the wrong foot.  Keep these tips in mind and avoid scams this tax season!

  • It’s important to remember that the Internal Revenue Service does not contact taxpayers via email asking for personal information.  They do not ask for confidential information such as passwords or credit card information, so if you do come across an email or get a phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS employee, report it right away to phishing@irs.gov.
  • If you do receive an email, do not click on any links that may be in it, simply forward it to the email address listed above.
  • If a business is asking for your social security number, do not give it to them if it’s optional.
  • Check your credit report every 12 months.  It’s a good idea to do this to make sure you haven’t accidentally forgotten to pay any bills or taxes which could bring down your score, and to make sure no one has been taking out loans or opening credit cards in your name.  The sooner you identify one of these problems, the sooner it can get taken care of before getting worse.
  • Do not give out personal information over the phone, email, or in the mail unless you are the one initiating contact.  Scam artists will often pose as financial institutions and trick people into providing them with personal financial information, if you have any doubts it’s best to reach out to the institution yourself and ask if they are looking for such information.  If not, let them know that someone is contacting customers posing as that institution.
  • Don’t carry around documents with your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).  Should you lose your wallet or get pick pocketed, a thief could do some serious damage with such information.
  • If you have financial information on your computer or frequently pay bills or make purchases online, make sure your computer has firewalls and anti-virus software so that hackers can’t access your financial information.
  • If you do decide to hire someone else to file your taxes, do your research.  Ask friends and family members if they can recommend anyone.
  • Limit the amount of people that have access to your personal financial information.
  • Keep in mind that even if someone else does file your taxes for you, you are still responsible for everything on the form.

If you keep these tips in mind, you should avoid scammers this tax season and file without any issues.

Photo By: 401(K) 2012

Stay Safe In Parking Lots

parking lot

How often do you find yourself in a crowded parking lot?  Probably more often than you’d like, which is why it’s so important to take safety precautions that you may not normally think of.  Believe it or not, parking lots can be extremely dangerous and are often patrolled by criminals.  Follow these tips to keep your valuables, and more importantly, yourself safe.

  • Don’t make your car an easy target.  Always lock the doors and hide all valuables, especially new purchases or GPS devices.  Thieves look for items such as these so do not leave them in sight.  Purchases should go in the trunk and make sure to not only remove the GPS device itself but also the cord, and if your GPS is mounted to the window, try and remove the suction marks.  If thieves see these marks, they may assume that you’re hiding your GPS in the center console or glove compartment and break in anyway.  It’s best to leave no trace of any valuables whatsoever.
  • Be strategic when picking a parking spot.  We know that it can be tough to do this, but try and avoid parking in dark, desolate locations.  If you can park in a crowded, well-lit area that’s your best bet.  Criminals are not likely to target vehicles or people in these areas, as they are more likely to be identified.
  • Remain alert.  This is an extremely important tip, and unfortunately there are endless distractions between music, emails, and phone calls but it’s important to put those things on hold until you’re home.  Watching your surroundings is your best defense against becoming a victim or getting hit by a car.
  • Don’t stall when walking to your car.  Walk briskly and don’t appear as though you’re lost, even if you can’t find your car.  If possible, go shopping with a friend and use the buddy system, that will significantly reduce your chance of becoming a target.  If you are by yourself and are nervous to walk to your car, don’t hesitate to ask a security guard to walk you to your car.  All malls have security guards and that’s what they are there for, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
  • Carry your keys in your hand, not only can they act as a weapon if necessary, but it’s also better to be ready to unlock your car right away.  Once you’re in the car, don’t sit there picking a song or making a call, lock the doors right away and drive.
  • If you do feel as though you’re being followed out of a parking lot, drive to a well-lit area such as a gas station and call the police.  Having a car charger is also a good idea should you find yourself in an emergency situation such as this, you don’t want to have a dead cell phone and no way to call for help.

Keep these tips in mind next time you find yourself in a crowded parking lot.  Knowledge is your best defense against becoming a victim, so observe your surroundings, avoid distractions, and stay safe!

Photo By: Benson Kua

Winter Safety Tips For Runners And Walkers

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Despite the bitter cold and early onset of darkness, there are still some dedicated walkers and runners venturing outdoors for their workout.  Even though working out tends to take a back seat during the colder months, it’s still a good idea to stay active and work off all of those holiday goodies.  For those of you that want to avoid crowded gyms and would rather exercise outside, keep these tips in mind and stay safe!

  • Go during the day if at all possible.  Obviously this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you have the chance to workout during the day, take it.  Not only will the sun warm you up a bit, you’ll also be visible to drivers which makes running or walking much safer.
  • Make sure you’re visible.  Running or walking at night can be extremely dangerous, and it gets dark much earlier this time of year so it’s harder to get out during the day.  If you do have to be out in the dark, make sure that cars and other pedestrians can see you.  That means a lot of reflective material on your clothing and a headlamp or flashlight.
  • Find a route with a sidewalk.  This will make your route much safer if you’re not directly on the road.  If you must walk on the road, make sure you are always walking facing oncoming traffic.
  • Stay warm.  It’s important to bundle up and wear multiple layers in the bitter cold, and don’t forget gloves!  It may be wise to shorten your typical route if the windchill is extremely cold.
  • Watch the weather!  If temperatures are supposed to drop significantly, if roads are icy, or if it’s supposed to snow, it’s probably a good idea to stay indoors.
  • Stay hydrated.  Just because it’s cold out and you’re sweating less doesn’t mean you don’t need to drink water.  Hydrate before and after your workout if you don’t want to carry a water bottle during your run or walk.
  • Get shoes with traction.  Many athletic stores carry shoes specifically made for winter, and have tougher soles meant to brave the snow and ice.  You can also purchase products that slip over your shoes to provide traction, YakTrax are a great option.  Whichever item you would prefer, it’s important to have proper shoes for walks or runs in the winter months.
  • Keep shoes dry.  If your shoes get wet on your walk or run, it can be extremely dangerous.  The air is already cold enough, and if shoes get wet enough to soak your feet, it’s a recipe for frostbite.  Watch the weather and make sure it’s not going to rain or snow during your workout, it might also be a good idea to drive your route before running it and make sure there isn’t snow blocking sidewalks or creating obstacles that you would have to trek through.

Now, who’s ready to run?  Keep these tips in mind before venturing outside to work out, temperatures can drop quickly and it’s important to stay safe and avoid injuries, happy running!

Photo By: bradhoc

 

winter run

Turkey Farms In Massachusetts

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, we’re here to tell you where to get the perfect turkey!  Buying from a local turkey farm not only ensures your Thanksgiving dinner will be as fresh as possible, it also supports local businesses. There’s still time to put your order in before the big day, avoid the supermarket rush and stop by one of these local turkey farms!

Bob’s Turkey Farm – This family owned and operated business began in 1954 and is located in Lancaster.  They raise 10,000 turkeys on their farm in Lancaster each year and another 5,000 on their farm in Ashburnham.  All turkeys are fed a well balanced grain diet, raised in barns and outdoor pens free to move around as they wish, and are healthy and disease free.  Fresh and frozen turkeys are available during the week of Thanksgiving as well as turkey pies, soups, sides, and of course fresh desserts.

Bongi’s Turkey Roost – Run and operated by the Bongiorno family since 1947, Bongi’s Turkey Roost is located in Duxbury and is one of the oldest turkey farms in the state.  Their turkeys are “raised for quality and sold on merit”, and all turkeys are fed a strict vegetarian diet.  They are now taking orders for Thanksgiving dinners, and there are so many options to choose from it might be hard to pick!  There are farm fresh turkeys, fresh frozen turkeys, hot roast turkeys, chicken options, and a huge variety of sides including homemade stuffing, homemade butternut squash, homemade mashed potatoes, turkey salad, potato salad, coleslaw, macaroni salad, and their famous jumbo taters.  They can even customize your dinner for you, talk about outstanding service!

Gerard Turkey Farm – What could be better on Thanksgiving than picking up a fresh turkey dinner for the whole family that’s already been prepared? Let Gerard’s do the cooking this year and spend more time with your family!  They also have heat and serve products available if you do not want to order a hot meal for pickup on Thanksgiving day.  Although turkeys are no longer raised on site at Gerard Farms, the Gerard family is committed to producing top quality, home made products for their customers that do not contain preservatives.  The farm is located in Marshfield and is a popular Thanksgiving tradition for many families on the south shore.

Raymond’s Turkey Farm – Located in Methuen, this family run farm has been raising turkeys for over 50 years.  All of their turkeys are bred on site and are fed only a high quality grain diet.  Whether you buy fresh turkey, hot roasted turkey, a turkey pie, or any of the number of additional products they offer, all of the ingredients are guaranteed fresh and do not contain any preservatives.  The farm is open daily from 8 AM – 5 PM for business if you want to pick up dinner for the family and can also prepare large portions for special occasions with 24 hr notice, but for Thanksgiving orders try and call as far in advance as possible.

If these turkey farms are close to you, they are a great option to consider for your Thanksgiving dinner!  Avoid rushing through a crowded supermarket and head to one of these friendly, family-run farms and support small businesses here in Massachusetts!

Photo By: Tim Massey

Tis The Season To Celebrate!

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Tis the season to celebrate!  We’re celebrating the start of the holiday season by giving away two tickets to see “A Christmas Story, The Musical” at the Wang Theatre in Boston! This 2013 Tony Award Nominee for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book is sure to be fun for all ages.

Entering is easy!  All you have to do is “Like” our post on Facebook, and comment with your own favorite holiday tradition or story to enter.  The tickets are for a matinee showing on Saturday, December 7th at 2 PM and are valued at $200.   Don’t forget to share the post so that friends and family can enter too!

Official Contest Rules:

  1. Entry Instructions:  Each person may enter by clicking “Like” on the MassDrive Facebook page and comment with your favorite holiday tradition or story. You may also enter the Contest by sending us the requested information by a postcard or letter addressed to “Christmas Story Contest” to our mailing address at 241 A Street, Suite 400, Boston, Massachusetts, 02110. Please include your submission and how to contact you by phone, email and mailing address.  These complete Contest Rules may also be obtained by sending us a request at our address, above.
  2. All entrants must be Massachusetts residents and age 18 or older.
  3. Only one entry per person. No purchase of any MassDrive product is necessary and will not increase the likelihood of winning.
  4. Entrants may not submit content that contains any elements that violate a third party’s copyrights or trademark rights; or depictions of any individuals that have not granted permission to appear in the entry.
  5. The contest will begin on Wednesday November 6, 2013  and will end at 11:59 PM on Thursday, November, 14th.  The contest winner will be selected by MassDrive based upon each entrant’s creativity and unique value and it will be judged upon adherence to our contest rules.  The winner will be announced in a post on our Facebook page the following day.  The winner can inbox us with their address and we will mail the tickets to them.
  6. The contest winner will be mailed two tickets for the Saturday, December 7, 2013 2 PM performance of “A Christmas Story, The Musical” held at the Wang Theatre in Boston.  These tickets are valued at $200.
  7. Employees and family members of MassDrive or Next Generation Insurance Group LLC are ineligible to enter.
  8. MassDrive reserves the right to cancel, modify or suspend the Contest, if in its sole discretion any problem prevents the Contest from running as planned.  All entrants must agree to release and hold harmless MassDrive from any claim by the entrant associated by entrant’s participation in the Contest.  MassDrive is not responsible and cannot be held liable for technical errors or other things that may prevent the promotion from running as planned.  MassDrive also reserves the right to substitute the contest prize with another prize of equal or greater value if the advertised contest prize is not available.
  9. These Contest Rules shall be governed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, excluding its conflicts of laws provisions.
  10. All entrants must agree to release and hold harmless Facebook from any claim by the entrant associated by entrant’s participation in the Contest. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Best of luck to all participants!

 

Safety Tips For Trick Or Treaters!

trick or treating

Halloween is a fun time of year, but it can also be dangerous for trick or treaters if the proper safety precautions aren’t taken.  When you go out with your little monsters, keep these tips in mind, and stay safe this Halloween!

  • Make sure any children under age 13 are accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult.
  • Respect trick or treating hours established by your town.  If your children are trick or treating on their own establish a curfew.
  • Go over the route you and your trick or treaters plan on taking, make sure they know exactly where they’re going and how to get home.
  • Establish a meeting spot should you and your trick or treaters get separated.
  • Be visible.  It’s getting dark out very early and it will be difficult for drivers to see children in costumes, add reflective tape to their costume and treat buckets to make them easier to see.
  • Carrying a flashlight is also a good idea to improve visibility, but be sure to never shine it in the eyes of oncoming drivers, it may temporarily blind them.
  • Avoid wearing masks that obstruct vision.  It’s already going to be dark out and you don’t want children struggling to see oncoming cars, other trick or treaters, or obstructions in their path.
  • Make sure children’s costumes are not too long on them to prevent tripping.
  • Make sure any swords, knives, or other costume accessories are shot, soft, and flexible.
  • Do not allow children to walk near any candles or other potential fire hazards, make sure their costumes are flame-resistant.
  • Only approach houses that are well lit, tell children not to approach houses that are in darkness or to enter a strangers home or garage.
  • Stay on any sidewalks or paths, if there are none then walk on the side of the street facing traffic.
  • Make sure children understand to use crosswalks, look both ways before crossing the street, and never cross between parked vehicles as it’s difficult for drivers to see you.
  • If children are going out without an adult, make sure you know where they’re going and that they’ll be in a group.
  • Don’t let children eat any candy until they’re home and you’ve checked it to be sure it’s safe.

Keep these tips in mind this Halloween and you and your family will have a safe, and happy holiday!

Photo By: Ginny

Ask The MassDrive Agent: What’s Your Favorite Spot To Watch A Red Sox Game?

sports bar

If you live in Massachusetts, odds are you love the Red Sox, and if you ask us, there’s no better spot to watch a game than in Boston itself.  If you’re not from the area, you may not know where some of the best spots are, so our agents have some tips!  Of course Fenway is the top choice, but if that’s not an option there are tons of spots to catch a game in the Boston area!  Our agents have narrowed it down to a few of the best, so if you’re in the area be sure to stop by one (or all) of these fun local bars!

Brighton Beer Garden – This is a favorite spot of our customer service rep, Chrissy.  They have darts and pool tables so you can play some games and socialize while you watch the game.  Their beer menu is huge and Chrissy says their pub food is amazing.  Another great plus is that they have tons of TVs so you  don’t have to crane your neck to see what’s going on.  Every Monday they have all-you-can-eat wings for $6.99, so if you plan on stopping by for game 5 tonight make sure you take advantage of that awesome deal!

Cambridge Brewing Co. – Located in Kendall Square, this is a frequent stop for our sales agent, Shawn.  He said they have awesome food and drinks, and they have a wide variety of both standard and experimental beers that are all their own original brews.  They pride themselves on using local ingredients and their beer is always fresh and brewed on site.  Whether you’re an expert on craft beer or not, you’ll definitely appreciate the taste and quality of their brews and the fun atmosphere.

Jerry Remy’s – Our sales agent, Christine, enjoys taking in a game at Jerry Remy’s, it’s located right next to Fenway Park and if you sit on their roof deck, you’ll be overlooking Fenway’s right field wall!  Two massive 6.5 x 11 foot TVs, along with many other 36 inch hi-definition TVs, make this the perfect spot to take in a game, and you’ll never miss a second.  Their American food is served with a creative twist and there are tons of options to choose from.  This is the ultimate game watching experience, and it’s so close to Fenway you may feel like you’re actually there!

Stats Bar and Grille – Located in the heart of South Boston, Stats is a favorite stop of our sales agent, Jeff.  It’s a popular spot for younger crowds, and on game days it gets crowded pretty quickly, so make sure you get there a little early unless you don’t mind standing.  There are 22 flat screen TVs throughout the bar, so wherever you are you’ll never miss a play.  They have a menu full of classic bar food including pizza, burgers, fish & chips, and much more! Stats is a guaranteed good time whether you’re there for the game or just for a quick bite.

Yard House – Our sales agent, Teresa enjoys catching a game at Yard House right near Fenway.  They have extensive food and drink menus ranging from typical food options such as pizza and burgers, to steak, Mediterranean food, multiple taco varieties, and much more.  Their beer menu is one of the largest around, and don’t miss out on drinking one out of their 3 foot tall glasses!  Before and after the game, enjoy their classic rock playlist with friends and late night happy hour!

Wherever you plan on watching the game, make sure you have a plan to get home safely.  If you’re going to be drinking, make sure to always use a designated driver!  Whether you’re driving or just a passenger in a vehicle, make sure you always fasten your seat belt.  Even if you’re driving perfectly and obeying the rules of the road, others may not be, so drive defensively and do your part to ensure that yourself, and others stay safe!

Photo By: acme401

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