Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) officials today joined MAPFRE leadership in South Boston to announce that MAPFRE Insurance was awarded a sponsorship contract for the Highway Assistance Program for the next three years, and commemorate the 10th anniversary of Massachusetts’ Move Over Law.

The Move Over Law, which took effect March 22, 2009, requires motorists to “move over” or slow down for First Responders stopped on the side of the highway. This provides an extra measure of safety for all roadside emergency and maintenance professionals.

 “We appreciate MAPFRE’s continued support of our Highway Assistance Program which assists stranded motorists and those who are in need of mechanical assistance on state highways,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “We encourage members of the public to recognize that they must move over and reduce their speeds when approaching a scene involving First Responders or highway assistance crews who are doing their best to efficiently and safely assist with an emergency situation or stranded motorist.”

A photograph of MassDOT officials and MAPFRE Insurance leadership at the event held today in South Boston. [Submitted Photo]

The operators of the Highway Assistance Program, sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance, assist stranded motorists and provide services such as changing flat tires, fixing minor mechanical problems, providing minimal amounts of fuel, and providing emergency medical assistance. This assistance helps to reduce traffic congestion that results from stalled vehicles on the side of the highway, and reduces the likelihood of secondary incidents.

The Highway Assistance Program, formerly known as Cares Vans, was the nation’s first patrol to accept private enterprise sponsorship and remains the longest running sponsored patrol, having been supported by MAPFRE Insurance since 2003. Since that time, the Highway Assistance Program has patrolled 23 million miles and responded to over 520,000 incidents. MAPFRE Insurance was selected as the sponsor for the Highway Assistance Program through a competitive bidding process which was open to any interested party

“The Highway Assistance Program plays a valuable role in protecting our motorists and their passengers, and restoring traffic flow to Massachusetts roadways as safely and quickly as possible,” said MAPFRE Insurance CEO, Northeast Region, Patrick McDonald. “We are pleased to continue to support this important program through our partnership with MassDOT.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, all 50 states have “Move Over” laws. In Massachusetts, failure to comply with the law could result in a fine of up to $100. Whenever motorists see flashing lights, whether it’s a Highway Assistance vehicle, law enforcement officer, firefighter or tow truck driver, they are urged to move over to protect these First Responders.

“We are continuing to work closely with MAPFRE Insurance to help promote safe and reliable travel on state highways,” said Highway Administrator Gulliver. “Our greatest priority is safety and ensuring that everyone using our transportation systems reaches their destination and the places they need to go.”

The Highway Assistance Patrol services routes in Metro Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Cape Cod (seasonal) during peak coverage hours, with extended routes during holidays. The sponsorship also covers the Massachusetts Turnpike on I-90 with the Emergency Service Patrol, as well as Boston-area tunnels in the Metropolitan Highway System with Incidence Response Operators.