The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is joining national efforts to encourage safe driving over the Independence Day holiday.
Police officials across the country will step up their drinking and driving enforcement efforts, and motorists can expect to see an increased police presence on the roads through Sunday, July 8.
"When people drink and drive, they put themselves and others at risk," RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. "Have a plan in place before you celebrate. Designate a sober driver, take public transportation, or call a friend or family member to get home safely."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), impaired-driving crashes killed more than 10,000 people nationwide in 2010, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in the United States. That's an average of one impaired-driving fatality every 51 minutes.
The percentage of fatalities from impaired driving often spike around Independence Day. More than 390 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the Fourth of July holiday in 2010. Of those fatalities, 39 percent were in crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, and 80 percent occurred at night.
RIDOT also reminds motorists to fasten their seat belts as they travel this week. Safety belts have been proven reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent for occupants in the front seat of a passenger car, and by 60 percent for occupants in a pickup truck, SUV or van.
"Study after study has shown that seat belts save lives," Lewis said. "It only takes a second, and it can be your best defense against drunk drivers."
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 will be available on RIDOT social media sites on Twitter and Facebook.
Contact: Bryan Lucier 401-222-1362 x4012