AAA Southern New England and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) are partnering to increase motorist awareness of the need to drive carefully in work zones by illuminating the State House dome orange for the week of April 4 - 8, 2011. The lighting is part of a “Go Orange” theme RIDOT is adopting to mark the 12th annual National Work Zone Awareness Week.
Motorists are invited to join in this campaign by wearing orange pins or clothing, decorating their home or office with the color orange or taking other creative means to show support for the men and women working in construction sites across the State. RIDOT has established a special website using the photo-sharing service Flickr, to which anyone can post pictures. Visit www.dot.ri.gov for links to the special Flickr site.
“Each year at the beginning of the construction season we remind people to slow down and drive carefully in work zones,” RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. “Wearing or otherwise displaying the color orange is a visible sign that supports those who work every day to improve our roads and bridges.”
AAA and RIDOT have a strong relationship developing public awareness campaigns aimed at minimizing distracted driving, reducing drunk driving and encouraging people to buckle up. AAA is sponsoring the cost of the orange lighting of Rhode Island’s Capitol building in Providence.
“With road construction activity moving into high gear this spring, AAA Southern New England is pleased to partner with RIDOT on this important traffic safety awareness initiative,” said Lloyd P. Albert, Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs at AAA. “Navigating safely and slowly through work zones enhances the safety of motorists and construction workers and ultimately translates into lives saved and injuries prevented.”
Last year about 700 people in the United States were killed in work-zone related accidents. About 85 percent of those killed are not the workers on the road but the driver or occupant of the vehicle causing the crash. Additionally, more than 40,000 people nationwide are injured each year in work zone accidents.
National Work Zone Awareness Week takes place each April. It coincides with the return of warmer weather and the start of the Rhode Island construction season. RIDOT and AAA offer the following suggestions for motorists as they encounter more construction vehicles and workers in the coming weeks:
• Slow down: Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes.
• Read the signs: Signage and flashing arrows are used to guide you and other drivers to move safely through the work zone.
• Don’t engage in distracting activities, especially the use of electronic devices: Whether it be talking or texting on a cell phone, checking directions on a GPS unit, or even changing radio stations. These all take a driver’s attention away from the road.
• Merge as soon as possible: Don’t drive right up to the lane closure and then try merging in.
• Expect delays: Leave early so you can reach your destination on time.
• Be patient and stay calm: Remember that work zones are a necessary part of operations to improve our network of roads and bridges.
RIDOT makes every effort to alert the public about planned work zones for construction and maintenance activities and posts them on its website at www.tmc.dot.ri.gov/traveladvisories.asp. Announcements regarding road closures are routinely posted on the Department’s social networking sites on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Blogger. Weekly traffic forecasts also are sent to all Rhode Island media and traffic reporting services, and are published in the Providence Sunday Journal.
Travel planning resources provided by AAA also highlight current work zones and are marked on the auto club’s proprietary Triptik Travel Planner available at www.AAA.com.
RIDOT also performs intensive safety training each spring in conjunction with National Work Zone Awareness Week with classroom and hands-on training for all of RIDOT’s field maintenance personnel.
Motorists, however, need to be prepared for unplanned work zones as well. RIDOT responds to reports for potholes, debris in the roads, and other urgent matters that require immediate attention. RIDOT uses highway message boards, its Highway Advisory Radio system (1630 AM), and 511 to relay this type of information. To report a road-related problem, contact RIDOT’s Customer Service office at 401-222-2450 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Contact: Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362 x4007