The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and its safety partners joined forces today to urge drivers to slow down and move over when approaching work zones and first responders to save lives. The week of April 15, 2024 is National Work Zone Awareness Week.

Director Peter Alviti was joined by State Police Colonel Darnell Weaver, East Providence Police Chief Christopher Francesconi, FHWA Regional Director Derek Torrey and officials from AAA Northeast, the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades and the New England Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund to draw awareness to the issue.

Speaking at RIDOT’s East Providence Maintenance Facility, Director Alviti noted that RIDOT has 63 active projects this construction season in dozens of work zones throughout the state. Plus, RIDOT has 20 to 30 active maintenance work zones throughout the state every day. Statistics show that there are about 900 fatalities each year in active work zones and the bulk of these are among drivers who hit either barriers or equipment.

State and local police pointed out the importance, as well, of drivers slowing down and moving over when first responders are working on the side of the road. In 2008, Rhode Island passed the “move over” law which requires drivers to move over a lane when approaching a first responder. In 2014, the law was expanded to include construction and highway maintenance workers. If a driver is not able to move over, he or she must slow down to leave as much space as possible between their vehicle and those that are stopped.

“Every day, law enforcement officers, emergency responders and roadside workers put their lives at risk to see important construction projects through and uphold the safety of our communities. By slowing down and moving over, you are doing your part to protect roadside workers and ensure work zone safety on our highways,” said Colonel Weaver.

Chief Christopher Francesconi of the East Providence Police Department said, “In work zones, every cone, every barricade and every flashing light is there for a reason: to keep roadside workers, law enforcement officers and drivers safe. It only takes a split second of distraction to cause a tragedy. Today we are reminding all drivers to keep your attention on the road.”

All RIDOT work zones are set up with careful attention to safety and in coordination with national standards and best practices. Work zone inspections take place on a regular basis as well.