Urging drivers to slow down and move over.

RIDOT and partners united on work zone safety awareness.

RIDOT truck damage caused by distracted driver.

The RhodeWorks program continues to generate an unprecedented level of infrastructure activity across the state. As the 2024 season began, 63 active RIDOT construction projects were in motion across dozens of work zones — along with 20 to 30 active maintenance work zones. On a daily basis, jobsite personnel from CIRI member companies and others are working to fix roads and bridges within a few feet of oncoming traffic — which is often traveling at high speeds.

On April 16, RIDOT hosted a work zone safety awareness event at its East Providence maintenance facility. Led by Director Peter Alviti, Jr., the program of speakers included officials from local law enforcement, AAA, the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

“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,” said Colonel Darnell Weaver of the RI State Police. “By slowing down and moving over, you are doing your part to protect roadside workers and ensure work zone safety on our highways.”

Rhode Island “move over” laws currently in place.

In 2008, the RI General Assembly passed a law requiring drivers to move over a lane when approaching a first responder. In 2014, the law was expanded to include construction and highway maintenance workers.

For instances where it is not possible to move over, drivers must slow down to leave as much space as possible between their vehicles and those that are stopped. The law also requires drivers to move over when approaching a vehicle with flashing lights and arrow signs. If they cannot do so, they are required to reduce speed as they pass.

Collaborating to ensure roadside workers return home safely.

Nationally, there are about 900 fatalities each year in active work zones. The bulk of these involve the drivers themselves. While RI hasn’t experienced a work zone fatality in many years, workers do get injured from time to time. There are also numerous near-misses caused by distracted drivers.

“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,” said East Providence Police Chief Christopher Francesconi. “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.”

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