After an ominous start to the week, officials are urging motorists to be extra cautious on the roads this holiday weekend.
A car accident claimed the life of a 53-year-old man on Interstate 495 in Mansfield on Monday, while a 24-year-old woman was killed in an I-95 crash in Walpole on Tuesday. Meanwhile, 10 people were injured in an accident that occurred on 495 in Boxboro the same day.
Police reports suggest that all of the aforementioned accidents involved passengers and drivers who were ejected from their vehicles.
“It has been a terrible two days on Massachusetts roads,” wrote Jeff Larson of Safe Road Alliance in a Tuesday memo. “Specifically there have been three ejection crashes resulting in two fatalities.”
According to a report (attached to article) released by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA), “44 percent of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants are ejected, partially or totally, from the vehicle as compared to only sic prevent of restrained occupants.”
NCSA’s clear message is that wearing a seatbelt is proven to save lives.
“Data indicates that seat belt use significantly reduces the likelihood of ejection in crashed,” said Larson.
Aside from buckling up, another major step that motorists can take this weekend is knowing when not to get into a vehicle after alcohol has been involved.
As one of the largest party nights of the year, New Year’s Eve is often accompanied by drunk drivers. In fact, MA State Police reports detail that 59 people were killed in crashes in Massachusetts that involved drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 grams per deciliter or higher in 2010.
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security's Highway Safety Division recommends these tips for a safe holiday:
- Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.
- If you're impaired, use a taxi, a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
- If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don't hesitate to contact the police.
- If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get home safely.
If you are the host of a New Year’s party, you are also responsible for the well-being of your guests, particularly where alcohol is concerned. The federal government’s USA.gov site offers the following tips to hosts:
- Plan ahead by naming a "designated driver." Make this your responsibility as the host.
- Contact a local cab company to provide rides for your guests.
- Serve non-alcoholic beverages as an option to your guests.
- Stop serving alcohol to your guests several hours before the party ends.
- Provide your guests with a place to stay overnight in your home.
To assist with New Year’s revelers who want to get home safely this weekend, AAA is offering its “Tipsy Tow” service to those who will be in the Merrimack Valley area. AAA affiliates will take you and your car home safely between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. Those who participate do not have to be a AAA member and the service can be reached at (800) 222-4357.
Additionally, the MBTA plans to offer free subway, bus and commuter rail service on New Year’s Eve after 8 p.m.
“We recommend planning ahead: plan to stay the night somewhere safe, use a designated driver, and have money for a cab just in case!” said AAA spokesperson J.D. Jackson in a press release. “Whatever you do, there's no reason to drive drunk. Don't start the New Year off the wrong way.”