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Friday, 22 October 2021 17:18

How to Deal with Robotext Scams

Robotexts complaints were up 146% last year over the year before, according to the FTC1.

Chances are you have received a text message from an unknown sender – and most likely the message was from a scammer trying to trick you into giving them your sensitive information such as passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. With that information, scammers could gain access to your personal accounts, or they could sell your information to other scammers.

In this article, find out how to identify robotexts, which are also referred to as spam texts and SMS phishing. Learn what you can do about these unwanted text messages and how to report them.

 

How to Identify Robotext Messages

Scammers use a variety of ever-changing schemes, including:

Wednesday, 22 September 2021 16:03

7 Common Car Accidents and How to Help Avoid Them

Let’s face it: accidents happen. And when they do, you might be looking at car repairs and injuries as well as possible increases to your insurance premium. Safe driving can go a long way in keeping you and your family safe and your premium in check. Here are seven common car accidents and tips on how to help avoid them:

1. Rear-end Collisions

Rear-end collisions are a common reason for auto insurance claims. Whether you are the driver who hits a vehicle in front of you, or the driver who gets hit by a vehicle behind you, these accidents can often be avoided. Consider these tips:

  • Keep your distance. Drive far enough behind the car in front of you so you can stop safely. This is especially true in inclement weather. Stay at least three seconds behind the vehicle ahead of you, and longer if you’re in a heavier vehicle. Extend the timing when weather conditions are bad.
  • Drive strategically. Avoid situations that could force you to suddenly use your brakes. If a driver is following you too closely or isn’t paying attention, you might be rear-ended.
  • Don’t get distracted. Never take your eyes off the road to eat, read a text message or find your phone. If the driver ahead of you stops suddenly, it only takes a second or less of not paying attention to rear-end their vehicle.
  • Don’t drive when drowsy or under the influence. You’re more likely to make driving errors when you’re sleepy or impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Tuesday, 08 June 2021 01:43

2021 Summer Road Trips Resources

Is 2021 the year for your epic road trip vacation? 

Now that Covid-19 restrictions have been relaxed in most states, 2021 is shaping up to be the year of summer of road trips because it’s safer to travel in your own vehicle rather than by planes, trains, or buses, with people you don’t know.

And while it's great to get back to traveling, the pandemic isn’t over yet. Before you plan your summer road trip, familiarize yourself with these road trip resources.


Know the Local COVID-19 Guidelines

Most states have dropped or relaxed coronavirus-related restrictions. Generally, state government websites, such as Mass.gov, will provide you with the latest advisories and requirements along with these additional resources:

Friday, 07 May 2021 03:54

The SUV of Bicycles

Have you ever wanted to turn off the paved road and head down an inviting dirt road but knew your bike couldn't handle it? If so, a gravel bike could be the bike for you.

Gravel bikes have exploded in popularity due to their all-terrain versatility. From commuting city streets to rugged adventure rides, gravel bikes are the SUVs of bicycles that can go just about anywhere. 

Motorists Driving in the Presence of Bicyclists Must Follow These Laws in Massachusetts

Do you know your responsibilities as a driver when sharing the road with bicyclists?

Bicyclists have the right to use all public ways in this state except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted. When riding on public ways, bicyclists must obey the same basic traffic laws and regulations that apply to motor vehicle operators. Motorists must follow additional rules and regulations when driving in the presence of bicyclists.

The following is a summary of Massachusetts bike law for drivers:  

As a motorist in the presence of bicycles: (see Massachusetts General Law Chapter 89, Section 2 and Chapter 90, Section 14)1 

  • Do Not Cut-Off After Passing: When passing a bicycle traveling in the same direction that is on your right, you must not return to the right until you have safely passed the overtaken bicycle. (Chap. 89, Sec. 2)

  • Do Not Make an Abrupt Turn After Passing: When passing a bicycle near an intersection or driveway where you want to turn right, you cannot turn unless you are at a safe distance from the bicyclist and you can make the turn at a reasonable and proper speed. (Chap. 90, Sec 14)

  • Do Not Squeeze Bicycles in a Narrow Lane: If a lane is too narrow to pass a bicycle at a safe distance, be PATIENT until you can safely use an adjacent lane or WAIT until it is safe to pass in the lane you share. (Chap. 89, Sec. 2) You should stay at least three feet away when passing.

  • Do Not Fail to Yield When Turning Left: When turning left at an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway, you must yield the right of way to a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction, including a bicycle, if it is in the intersection or close enough to be an immediate hazard. (Chap. 90, Sec 14)

  • Watch for Bicycles on Your Right: Bicycles can legally ride to the right of motor vehicle traffic. The law says it is not a defense for a motorist causing a crash with a bicycle that the bicycle was to the right of other traffic. (Chap. 85, Sec 11B)

  • Do Not Open a Door Without First Looking: Drivers and passengers can be fined up to $100 for opening a vehicle door into an oncoming bicycle. (Chap. 90, Sec 14) Before opening your door, you should always check behind you to make sure that no bicyclists are approaching. 

    (Related post:  Dutch Reach Technique.)

  • Be aware that bicyclists can ride two bicycles side-by-side. However, on a road with more than one lane in the direction of travel, they must stay in one lane. (Chap. 85, Sec. 11B) 

  • Be aware that bicyclists Do Not Always Have to Signal Turns! Bicyclists must signal their intent by either hand to stop or turn. However, the signal does not have to be continuous or be made at all if both hands are needed for the bicycle’s safe operation. (Chap. 85, Sec. 11B)

Thursday, 06 May 2021 21:49

Bicyclist Rights and Responsibilities

Before you head out for a ride, know your responsibilities as a bicyclist. 

Bicyclists have the right to use all public ways in this state except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted. When riding on public ways, bicyclists must obey the same basic traffic laws and regulations that apply to motor vehicle operators.1

MassBike has summarized Massachusetts’ bike law regarding bicyclist responsibilities in clear language.2 Please read the complete text of the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Chapter 85, Section 11B.


Your Rights as a Bicyclist:

  • You may ride your bicycle on any public road, street, or bikeway in the Commonwealth, except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bikes have been posted.
  • You may ride on sidewalks outside business districts unless local laws prohibit sidewalk riding.
  • You may use either hand to signal stops and turns.
  • You may pass cars on the right.
  • If you carry children or other passengers inside an enclosed trailer or [another] device that will adequately restrain them and protect their heads in a crash, they need not wear helmets.
  • You may have as many lights and reflectors on your bike as you wish.
  • You may ride on sidewalks outside business districts, unless local laws prohibit sidewalk riding.
  • You may use either hand to signal stops and turns.
  • You may pass cars on the right.
  • If you carry children or other passengers inside an enclosed trailer or [another] device that will adequately restrain them and protect their heads in a crash, they need not wear helmets.
  • You may hold a bicycle race on any public road or street in the Commonwealth, if you do so in cooperation with a recognized bicycle organization, and if you get approval from the appropriate police department before the race is held.
  • You may establish special bike regulations for races by agreement between your bicycle organization and the police.
  • You may have as many lights and reflectors on your bike as you wish.

The Dutch Reach Method Prevents "Dooring" 

Dooring, or car dooring, is the act of opening a vehicle door into a bicyclist, pedestrian, or another vehicle.

Open vehicle doors pose a very serious threat to bicyclists. The Dutch Reach Project began as a way to prevent dooring accidents by using a simple technique called the Dutch Reach method which originated in the Netherlands. Also known as the Far Hand Reach method, the technique forces your body to turn, which will better allow you to see approaching bicyclists, and prevents the vehicle door from being opened too fast. This not only protects bicyclists and pedestrians but can also prevent your door from being damaged or torn off by an approaching motor vehicle.1

When opening a vehicle door, drivers and passengers should do the following:

  1. Check the rear-view mirror.
  2. Check the side-view mirror.
  3. Open the door with the hand farthest from the door (far hand reach).

Bicycling is one of the best ways to get exercise outdoors, yet bicyclists face many hazards when sharing the road with motor vehicles. National Bike Month is a great time to reacquaint yourself with bike safety before you head out for your next ride. 

Bicycling Safety Basics

  1. Check Your Equipment. Make sure your seat is set at the right height for you and locked in place; properly inflate your tires; add a working horn or bell, a rear-view mirror, and a headlight.
  2. Wear bright-colored clothing. Florescent, bright colors help others see you, especially in the shade during the day.
  3. Use lights at dusk and at night. According to Massachusetts law, you must use a white headlight and red taillight or rear reflector if you are riding anytime from 1/2 hour after sunset until 1/2 hour before sunrise. At night, you must wear ankle reflectors if there are no reflectors on your pedals.
  4. Wear a Helmet. Massachusetts law requires that persons 16 years old and younger must wear a helmet. While adults are not required to wear a bike helmet, it offers head and brain protection in the case of a fall or crash. (Watch a helmet-fitting video below.)
  5. Know the "rules of the road." Download the Mass.gov rules of the road for bicyclists and motorists driving in the presence of bicyclists. (Watch rules of the road video below.)
  6. Ride at least three feet from parked cars. Stay outside of the "door zone" and protect yourself from getting hit by opening vehicle doors.
Monday, 29 March 2021 22:42

Get Ready for Fire Pit Season

The snow and ice are gone, and it’s time to move back outdoors. Gathering by an outdoor fire pit is a great way to create a physically distanced, socially connected, warm, and cozy setting. But there are a few things to know before you break out the s’mores supplies and strike the match.

First and foremost, if you are new to using a fire pit in your yard, call your local fire department to check fire pit regulations in your city or town — some municipalities prohibit fire pits, chimineas, and outdoor fireplaces. Once you've determined that it's safe to use a fire pit in your yard, take a few minutes to become familiar with Massachusetts fire pit regulations as well as fire-building and fire safety skills listed below.

Thursday, 11 March 2021 16:43

MA Highway Exit Numbers Are Changing

Have you noticed the exit number changes on I-95 or Route 128 recently?

This month you'll see more changes to exit signs on both highways.

The exit numbers have already been changed on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Crews are currently working to finish Route 3, and some signs have been changed on I-95. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is converting all exit numbers on freeways to a milepost-based numbering system, per a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requirement. Currently, interstates and freeways in Massachusetts utilize a sequential exit numbering method. 

Why the Exit Numbers Change?

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