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Tips to Travel Safe During the Holidays

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is urging residents to drive safety and use public transportation.

During the holidays, we're all in a rush to get to our respective celebrations and enjoy the holidays. But also during this time of the year, the weather doesn't always cooperate.

Information for Drivers
With some wintry weather in the forecast, drivers should be prepared to encounter varying roadway conditions as they head to their holiday destinations, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT.)

MassDOT encourages residents and visitors to drive safely and use public transportation where possible during the upcoming holidays. 

Although holiday traffic is the worst around Thanksgiving, road conditions can still get pretty congested during peak travel times.

“Historically the days surrounding Christmas and New Year’s do not bring the traffic crunch seen around Thanksgiving, on Fridays in the summer or ahead of long weekends in the fall,” said MassDOT Highway Administrator Frank DePaola. “Travelers, however, should anticipate congestion and be alert when approaching popular shopping malls and plazas.”

Drivers should expect holiday heavy volume on the Massachusetts Turnpike, I-90, at Exit 9 connecting I-84 to Connecticut and New York. Drivers are encouraged to consider travel during the early morning or after 8 p.m. Traffic congestion is also typical at the I-95 and I-495 Turnpike interchanges along with I-495 and I-93 northbound leading into New Hampshire. 

To speed through the tolls, ‘E-ZPass On the Go’ transponders are available at all 11 Massachusetts Turnpike Service Plazas and make good last minute stocking stuffers. MassDOT has sold approximately 7,000 On the Go transponders since they debuted this summer.  

For those commuters working Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, MassDOT will not deploy the HOV lane on the Southeast Expressway in anticipation of a lighter than normal rush. The HOV lane will remain closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. 

In case of wintry travel weather, motorists should drive with headlights on, observe posted speed limits, make sure everyone is using a seatbelt and be on the lookout for changing weather conditions. And never drink and drive.

MBTA Holiday Schedule
The MBTA will be running on a different schedule during the holidays, so plan ahead before your trip. Christmas Day through New Year’s Day holiday service schedule includes a Sunday service schedule for Tuesday, December 25 and Tuesday, January 1, 2013. The T will be providing additional trains and free service after 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, December 31. Check out the full T schedule here.

Additional Perks for Travelers
Free coffee will be served at all 18 MassDOT service plazas courtesy of McDonalds, Burger King, and Gulf between 10 p.m. on Christmas night, Tuesday, December 25, until 5 a.m. on Wednesday, December 26, and between 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Monday, December 31, until 5 a.m. on Tuesday, January 1, 2013. 

To check road conditions, visit MassDOT’s online traffic camera webpage with more than 90 live traffic cameras throughout the highway system. The cameras refresh every 10 seconds to provide real time traffic views.  The 511 traffic alert system alerts customers to traffic conditions throughout the holiday weekend. 

More information on safe winter driving is available at the MassDOT website. 

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