With steady rain predicted for one of the heaviest travel periods of the year, The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is asking drivers to take it slow and plan ahead before visiting family and friends this Thanksgiving.
Forecasts indicate between one and two inches of rain could fall in many areas of the state tomorrow, Wednesday, November 23, with the heaviest rainfall coming between 2 a.m. and noon. Cold temperatures are expected overnight Wednesday, which may result in some slippery conditions Thursday morning. Today, RIDOT Maintenance crews were checking areas prone to flooding and clearing drains of leaves and debris.
"Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest travel times of the year, and drivers should be extra cautious of the weather and give themselves extra time to get where they need to go over the next couple of days," RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. "This weekend, and throughout the holiday season, motorists should take care to obey the speed limit, drive carefully and always wear a seat belt."
RIDOT offers many tools to assist motorists with their holiday travel plans. Starting this week, the Department expanded the travel time information available along overhead and roadside message boards on I-95 to include weekends through January 6, 2012. Live travel times and historical information, including traffic volumes from last Thanksgiving, can be found at www.tmc.dot.ri.gov/TravelTimes.
This new information complements other travel planning services RIDOT has for motorists including 511, the Highway Advisory Radio (1630 AM) and live traffic cameras at www.tmc.dot.ri.gov.
Travelers also may want to take advantage of the newly expanded commuter rail service in the state. The T.F. Green Airport station now features 20 stops a day Monday through Friday, and the Providence station hosts 34 stops per day during the week and 32 stops on the weekends. For a full schedule, visit www.mbta.com.
RIDOT also is joining national efforts this weekend to encourage seat belt use while driving this holiday weekend. Extra police patrols will be on hand this weekend to enforce Rhode Island's new primary seat belt law, which requires every occupant to wear a safety restraint.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to protect people and reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. Research has shown that when lap and shoulder belts are used properly, the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants is reduced by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury is reduced by half.
During the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday travel season, 303 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide. Of those, 52 percent were not using their seatbelts.
Those with questions can contact RIDOT's Customer Service office at 401-222-2450 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional information may be available on RIDOT's social media sites on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Blogger.
Contact: Bryan Lucier 401-222-1362 x4012