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Winter Safety Tips For Runners And Walkers

winter run

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

Do The Safety Bounce!

Do you do the Safety Bounce?  This new video from the MBTA urges all riders to practice safe behavior including looking both ways before you step off the curb, standing behind the yellow line at T stations, holding on to railings, and being alert to stay as safe as possible!  This unique and funny video is a great way to spread the word and remind all public transit riders to not let the little things get to them, and to use caution in their daily commute.  Be sure to share this fun, and catchy video with friends, family, co-workers, and anyone you know that takes public transit, just try not getting it stuck in your head!

Ask The MassDrive Agent: Who Makes The Best Coffee In Massachusetts?

coffee

You know you love it, you may even need it to get through your day, and now thanks to our agents, you can find the best cup of Joe in the Bay State! We’re big fans of coffee over in the MassDrive office, our agents come in early, and leave late all so they can serve our customers and find them the best deal possible.  As you can imagine, this leads to A LOT of coffee drinking, so they’re pretty much experts when it comes to this.

Barismo – Located in Arlington, this coffee shop is sure to impress any connoisseur with their fresh made brews from around the world.  They literally grind and brew the coffee right in front of you, and the company is both locally owned and eco-conscious! You can be sure you’re getting the freshest cup in the state when you visit this popular local stop, they have a wide variety of coffee from Central and South America as well as Africa.  The only downside to this spot is that since there are more steps to preparing the coffee, it takes a little longer.  It usually takes about 10 minutes to get a cup of coffee but if you have the time it’s worth the wait!  – Teresa Dillon, Sales Representative

Ula Cafe – If you’re in the area of Jamaica Plain, this spot is not to be missed.  They have an extensive menu filled with unique items including vegetarian options!  The staff is very friendly and the food is always fresh.  I highly recommend the  New Orleans Iced Cafe or the Thai Iced Coffee.  Both of them give you that kick you need in the morning and taste great.  – Shawn Harris, Sales Representative

L.A. Burdick Chocolate Shop and Cafe – Located in Boston and Cambridge, this popular cafe is the perfect place to stop after dinner for coffee and dessert.  They have a great drink menu including cappuccinos, frappes, hot chocolate, teas, and even espresso.  Their Luxembourgers (French Macaroons) are AMAZING! – Christine Tuccelli, Sales Representative

MaryLou’s Coffee – If you’re on the south shore, you’ll probably drive by a MaryLou’s, their bright pink signs are hard to miss!  This si a south shore favorite, you should definitely stop if you have the chance!  With flavors like Peanut Butter, Milky Way, Twix, and many more, their coffee’s are more like desserts.  Once you try it, you’ll be hooked.  The iced ones are great for the summer, and they have other breakfast items like muffins, bagels, and donuts if you’re hungry.  – Jeff Shea, Sales Representative

There you have it! Now you know where you can find some of the best coffee in the Bay State.  Take our word for it, our agents come from all over and are coffee fanatics so if they say it’s the best, it’s the best!

Photo By: epSos.de

Choosing A Driving School For Your Teen

driving school

When the time comes for your teen to get their learner’s permit and begin driving, it can be scary for any parent.  You want to be sure that your child has a good understanding of the rules of the road and feels comfortable behind the wheel, that’s why choosing the right driving school is so important.   Your child’s driving school will provide the foundation of their driving skills, so you want to make sure you are comfortable with your choice.  Here are a few tips to guide you in the process of choosing a driving school:

  • Make sure to look up reviews.  By doing a simple internet search you can find reviews for the school you are interested in.  Look for comments from other parents and contact anyone you know personally who has used the school in the past.  It is also a good idea to check the Better Business Bureau for any complaints that may have been registered against the school.  
  • Call the school and ask how the class will be structured, find out how long the instructors have been teaching, what the student to teacher ratio is, and ask any other questions you may need until you feel comfortable enough to send your child there for driver’s education.
  • Ask what kind of car the school uses for road lessons and make sure your teen would be comfortable in such a vehicle, if your teen is nervous about driving a certain type of car, such as a truck or SUV, you do not want them to have to learn how to drive under those circumstances.  Being a new driver can be nerve-wracking enough without the added stress of being in a car you aren’t sure you can handle.
  • Find out how long class sessions are, some school offer programs that meet more often for shorter amounts of time, or some schools offer an entire course over a few days but each day consists of hours of classroom time.  One program may be better for your teen than the other, so this is another important factor to consider because you want to be sure that your teen is actually understanding the information in the class.
  • Price is a major factor for many people.  Call different driving schools in your area and get some prices.  Ask about any additional fees that may be charged (such as for rescheduling road lessons etc) and ask about their refund policy.
  • Location isn’t everything!  If you’re not satisfied with the school closest to you, driving a town or two over may be worth it to ensure that your teen gets the best possible education course before hitting the open road.
  • Once you do sign your teen up for driver’s ed, make sure you keep any and all documents, contracts, and receipts for your records.

Although this may be a lengthy process, it is worth it to ensure that your teen has a solid foundation before they get their license.  You want them to be as prepared as possible, and feel confident behind the wheel.  A good education is the first step to that, so take the time to choose which school would be best for your teen!

Photo By: Steve Jurvetson

Spring Day Trips In Massachusetts

newburyport

Have a day or two off and want to go somewhere new?  Take a day trip to one of these great spots across the state!  Here in Massachusetts we’re lucky that we’re within driving distance of the beach, mountains, and city.  Take advantage of everything the Bay State has to offer this spring and check out some of these fun destinations on your next day off!

Newburyport – This seaside town is the perfect destination if you want to take in a sea breeze this spring.  There is a boardwalk right on the water that visitors can stroll along while stopping in to the many shops, museums, boutiques, and restaurants that line the streets of this quaint town.  Want to take in the outdoors?  There are many activities available including fishing, boating, taking a walk through the nature reserve or one of the many parks, or head to Plum Island and take a swim.  There’s enough going on here to keep you busy all day, and every member of your family will find something that interests them!

Mohawk Trail Region – The Mohawk Trail region is made up of many towns in Western Massachusetts including Deerfield, Barre, North Adams, and Greenfield that offers activities for all ages.  It’s the first scenic road in New England and has 63 miles of spectacular mountain views to take in!  This is a perfect destination for outdoor people, and attractions include zip lining, golf, fishing, boating, hiking, swimming, and much more.  There are also antique stores, galleries, museums, and historic sites for those that aren’t quite as outdoorsy.  Feeling really adventurous?  Try white water rafting!  There are many options across this region, depending on where you plan on traveling.  With so many options over such a large area, you’ll need to plan out an itinerary before you head out, so check out all that the Mohawk Trail region has to offer!

Boston Freedom Trail – Take a ride into Boston and brush up on some history this spring!  The Freedom Trail is one of the most popular attractions in the city, and it will bring you to all of the must see locations along the way.  This is Boston’s most popular walking tour and you can either book a tour with a costumed guide who will give you all of the historic information relevant to each landmark you pass by, or if you’re looking for a more casual setting follow the trail yourself and read the historic markers along the way!  If you do buy a ticket for the tour, it is valid for any day and time, tours are offered 12 times daily from April-November so there are plenty of options.  The trail will lead you all over the city, from the Boston Common, to Beacon Hill, to the waterfront, to the North End, and all the way into Charlestown, it’s the perfect way to experience every part of the city!

We’re very lucky here in Massachusetts, all of these destinations are only a few hours away from any point in the state, and are all perfect for day tripping with the whole family!  Next time you have a day off head to one of these spots that you typically wouldn’t venture to, you’ll make some new memories and have fun with the whole family while enjoying the outdoors this spring!

Photo By: Dougtone

Free Events This May!

Shucking oysters

Who doesn’t love getting something for free?  Well good news, because all of these events are free this month!  If you’re looking for something to do but are a little short on funds or are trying to save up while still having a social life, we’ve found a few events taking place for free.  Celebrate the start of spring at any (or all) of these fun activities!

Franklin Park Kite And Bike Festival – Franklin Park is the largest greenspace in Boston, and on Saturday, May 18th you can head over for a free festival from 11 AM – 4 PM!  Bring your own kite or buy one at the park and show off your skills, free bike “rentals” are also available for those that do not have their own bike.  Spend a day of fun in the sun, there will be food trucks for lunch or pack your own picnic!  There will also be many vendors and activities for children such as face painting.  This is a perfect event to bring the whole family to, so get ready for a beautiful spring day of kites, bikes, and fun in the sun!

Furnace Brook Winery – Located at Hilltop Orchards in Richmond, Furnace Brook Winery offers free tastings of any one of their award winning wines!  Open daily from 9 AM – 5 PM, this winery has many options to choose from, and once you try one, you can try five more samples for only $5!  After your tasting session head into their general store for some cider donuts, scones, fruit pies, and much more.  If you’re still not tired, head for a stroll through the orchards or a hike along one of the many trails on the property!

Free Oyster Shucking Lesson – The North End Fish Market in Boston’s historic North End is a hidden gem if you are looking for a fun and affordable night on the town!  Every Saturday from 1 PM – 3 PM they offer free oyster shucking lessons, no reservations required!  The lesson itself is free but you do have to pay for what you shuck and eat.  This is the perfect activity to try right before summer, so take your lesson and then head for a stroll along the waterfront and take in the sea breeze!  Seafood and the ocean are the only two ingredients you need for a fun spring evening,  don’t wait to try this unique experience!

Dinosaur Footprints – Imagine walking through the wilderness among the dinosaurs?  While we can’t give you that, you can walk through Dinosaur Footprints in Holyoke, a reservation that has naturally preserved actual dinosaur footprints along the Connecticut River!  What better way to spend a sunny day this spring?  Stroll along the paths and observe over 130 tracks left behind by dinosaurs over 190 million years ago!  Researchers believe that these specific tracks were left behind by small groups of two-legged, carnivorous dinosaurs that were likely ancestors of the Tyrannosaurus Rex and you can see these historic wonders right here in Massachusetts!  Open daily from sunrise  to sunset, admission is free for all but it is recommended that you allow at least a half hour to walk the trail.

Which of these events will you be attending?  Since they’re free, there’s no reason you can’t try them all!

Photo by: New Amsterdam Market

Wondering How You Should Spend Your Tax Return? Put It Towards Your Insurance!

tax return

Who doesn’t love getting a nice check back from the government after tax season? Although it may be tempting to head to the mall for a shopping spree or buy that TV you’ve had your eye on, putting your tax return towards insurance is a smart choice that may save you a lot of money in the future!  Believe it or not, the more you spend up front, the more you can save!

If you have a few extra bucks after tax season, call up your insurance agent and ask what your options are.  They may suggest increasing your coverage, which may in turn lower your monthly payments!  Although you would have to pay more out of pocket if you were to have an accident, you could put your tax return in a savings account just in case you ever needed to pay out your deductible.  If you don’t end up getting into an accident or using your deductible, you have that much more money in the bank, not to mention all of the money you would likely save on your monthly bill.  This sounds like an all around win if you ask us and applies to both auto and homeowner’s insurance!

Depending on how big your tax return is, you could even pay off your homeowner’s or auto policy in full!  How great would it be to not have to worry about a monthly payment for the entire year?  Not only would you be worry free, you would also get a discount for paying the policy in full!  This discount varies from carrier to carrier but typically you can save up to 5% off your premium.

Another thing you can put your money towards?  If you have a pet, why not invest in their health and get pet insurance!  Your furry friend deserves to be protected should they be a little under the weather, after all, humans have health insurance so why shouldn’t animals?  No matter how much we love our pets and look out for them, anything can happen.  They could get loose and get hit by a car, or even develop a suspicious tumor that needs to be checked out, whether they’re young or old, your pets should be covered.  If you haven’t been to the vet’s lately, it’s extremely expensive for each visit, even a simple problem such as an ear infection can run you up a few hundred dollars, for about the same price (depending on your pet’s age, breed, etc), you can cover all of your pet’s health needs for the entire year!

When it comes to insurance, the more you spend up front, the more you can save in the long run!  If you find yourself coming across a big chunk of change after tax season, give us a call at MassDrive!  If you already have a policy, talk to us about increasing your coverages, and if you don’t currently have a policy, give us a call and get a quote!  We also offer pet insurance so all members of your family will be protected!

Photo By: 401 (K) 2013

 

A Very Special Furry Friend Friday!

peachie

Happy Furry Friend Friday!  We’re back today with a very special interview, typically we feature furry friends that are pets of our employees, but today we took a different approach.  We contacted the Lowell Humane Society to see if they had any animals that would be willing to sit down with me, and lucky enough I got to sit down with Peachie!  Peachie is a two and a half year old girl up for adoption at the Lowell Humane Society, she is house trained and very sweet!

So Peachie, what is your favorite way to spend the day?

I love going for walks!  It’s my favorite thing to do and lately I have even been doing some nose work training!  I’ve been smelling different things and am getting better and better each day, and when I go for walks there are so many different things for me to explore.  I also love getting my belly rubbed, I am a real cuddler!

Do you have a favorite place to go for a walk?

Well usually I get to go outside in the play yard or across the street and walk along the Merrimack River, it’s really beautiful but I have been here at the shelter for a while so would like to find my forever home and go on a lot more adventures!  I’m sure there must be a lot of other smells to experience out there and I have a lot of energy!

Do you have a favorite toy?

My favorite toy is my squeaky rabbit, I love the noise it makes every time I chew on it!  I also love marrow bones!  They are my favorite treat but are also kind of like a toy, I can chew on those things for hours.

As a pit bull mix you look very tough, but is there anything that scares you?

Well looks can be deceiving, even though I am a pit bull mix I am still a gentle girl, although I do have some anxiety.  I get along with most people, but sometimes certain people make me very nervous, I would never bite them but sometimes I bark at them.  I would be best off in a home where I am the only pet with adults only, because I have anxiety, other animals and kids sometimes make me nervous.

Peachie why would you recommend getting pet insurance?

Well pet insurance is always good to have just in case anything ever happens to me, or any pet.  Accidents happen and even young dogs such as myself can have issues.  I am healthy as a horse right now, but you never know what can happen in the future.  Think about it, humans have health insurance, why shouldn’t pets?  We have to go to the vets just like humans go to the doctors, so why not pay a little throughout the year instead of having to pay a large fee upfront?

Peachie is a very smart girl, she realizes that pet insurance is extremely important for any pet owner!  If you’re interested in getting a quote for your furry friend, call us at MassDrive!

Peachie is a very cute and unique girl, she would make a wonderful pet for a young, active adult or couple.  Peachie has been looking for her forever home for a while, would you be willing to open your heart  to a new best friend?  If you’re interested in adopting Peachie contact the Lowell Humane Society.

 

 

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

 

April Vacation Events in Massachusetts

ecotarium

Looking for some family-friendly event ideas for April vacation week?  We’ve got you covered!  School vacation week is coming up fast, it’s April 15-19 !  There are so many events going on for April vacation,  we promise you won’t hear anyone in your family saying “I’m bored” if you bring your kiddos to some of these fun-filled events.

April School Vacation Week at the Franklin Park Zoo – Who doesn’t love going to the zoo?  There are beautiful, exotic animals which are always exciting to see no matter how old you are!  There are also some new animals to keep an eye out for during your visit, including a baby bongo calf and a Grant’s zebra foal.  There is also a (relatively) new 10,000-square-foot playground for your little ones to enjoy that was built last summer.  What’s the best part of school vacation week at the zoo, you ask?  The Aussie Aviary!  It will be opening for the season during school vacation week, and guests can explore the tropical environment while colorful birds fly right by you.  You can even purchase a seed stick to feed the birds, one of them may even land right on you!  During April Vacation week the Aussie Aviary will be open from 10 AM – 4 PM, weather permitting.  The zoo itself is open from 10 AM – 5 PM on weekdays, and from 10 AM – 6 PM on weekends.  Tickets are $17.00 for adults, $14.00 for seniors (age 62+),  $11.00 for children ages 2-12, and free for children under 2.

School Vacation Week At The Peabody Essex Museum – Want your kids to keep their minds engaged over break?  This is the perfect activity to boost their creativity and keep their brains active.  The Peabody Essex Museum is hosting a 3 day event in honor of April vacation week, called “Sounding Off: Explore Art and Movement Through the Work of Nick Cave”.  There will be many drop in activities to participate in, including creating kaleidoscopic wallpaper, using a MaKey MaKey which is a cool invention that can turn everyday items, such as a banana, into a musical instrument, interactive performances, tours, dance, and so much more!  These events will be taking place from Tuesday, April 16th- Thursday, April 18th.  All activities are included in the price of museum admission.  Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $11 for students, and free for children 16 and under or residents of Salem.

School Vacation Week At The Ecotarium – This is another great workshop that will keep your kids’ minds busy over vacation.  This year, April vacation week is combined with Earth Week at the Ecotarium in Worcester, which will be going on from Tuesday, April 16th – Friday, April 19th.  The theme of this year’s Earth Week is “Blast Off!” which examines how humans explore the universe, whether it be with satellites, robots, or rocket ships.  There will be many different activities to celebrate, including launching stomp rockets, games, maneuvering remote-controlled robots, exploring the science behind firing space probes, and making a model Earth orbiter.  Most of these activities are free with admission!  There will also be a celebration specifically for Earth Day on Friday, April 19th.  There will be half priced admission for everyone, indoor and outdoor Earth day events, animal programs, music, planetarium shows, and the opportunity to explore the Ecotarium’s trails and woods just as spring is arriving!

April School Vacation Week at the Museum of Fine Arts – Is there a budding artist in your family?  If so, they will love these April vacation programs at the MFA!  All activities and admission is free for kids during this week!  There will be tours of the museum, a story hour, visiting artists, a film festival, and many art making activities for your little (or big) artist.  The theme is “Artists to Warriors: Celebrating Japanese Art” and the programs will be on Tuesday, April 16th – Friday April 19th from 10 AM – 4 PM (til 8PM on Wednesday).  Focuses of the workshops will include subjects such a origami, Japanese Spring traditions, painting Cherry Blossom Scrolls, and even creating your own Samurai helmet!  Don’t let your kids miss out on this amazing experience, the best part is that it’s free!

There are plenty of events that will keep your kids occupied during their vacation!  These events are not only fun and interesting, but will keep your children’s minds engaged over their break.  Tell them to put the video games or iPad down and get them in gear!  All of the above events are approriate for children of all ages, kids of any age are sure to find an event they will enjoy!

Photo By: papertygre

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