Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti and Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Rhode Island Department of Public Safety, today joined several of Rhode Island's inter-denominational religious leaders to launch a new holiday safety initiative called Buckle Up Faithfully.
The holiday season is a time when roadways are more heavily travelled, which creates an increased risk to motorists and pedestrians. That is why RIDOT and the State Police are joining religious leaders to increase awareness about highway traffic fatalities and serious injuries and to encourage their congregations to Buckle Up Faithfully when travelling to visit family and friends.
Dr. Jeffery A. Williams, Bishop of The King's Cathedral in Providence said the goal of this initiative is to have this safety message ripple through congregations across the state, by asking people to be their brothers' keepers in asking them to buckle up, drive sober, follow speed limits and avoid distractions while behind the wheel.
"There are few things we can control in life - deciding to buckle up and not drive impaired are things we all can do," Williams said. "The one present we can give each other is the gift of our presence. Let's be present for our family and friends this holiday season"
"We at RIDOT are pleased to be joining with faith leaders to help get these important highway safety messages to as many people as possible," Alviti said. "We want to make sure there are no empty seats at holiday tables this season."
"We need everyone's help to keep the roadways safe during the upcoming holidays," Colonel Assumpico said. "We encourage all motorists to drive safely and responsibly, and we also ask that you call 911 immediately if you see anyone operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner. We can't be everywhere all the time, but with your help, we will aggressively pursue any motorist whose actions threaten the lives of others during the holidays and throughout the year."
As part of the Buckle Up Faithfully initiative, faith leaders are sharing roadway safety messages during sermons and homilies and in their congregations' bulletins. In addition to Bishop Williams, participating clergy include:
- Pastor Michael Caparrelli, Sacred Exchange Fellowship, East Greenwich
- Rabbi Barry Dolinger, Congregation Beth Shalom, Providence (East Side)
- Father Joe Escobar, Our Lady Rosary Church, Providence (Fox Point)
- Imam Farid Ansari, Rhode Island Council of Muslim Advancement
Nationwide, approximately 300 people a year are killed in crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and more than half of those who died are not properly restrained in seatbelts or child safety seats.
Here in Rhode Island, traffic fatalities are tracking well above average this year, with 76 people killed on our roadways since the start of 2017. That's far more than all the fatalities observed last year and there are still six weeks left in the year. And of the 76 fatalities, nearly half of them were per not properly restrained.
In addition to the loss of life, nearly 170 people sustained serious injuries in crashes so far in 2017. Almost 90 percent of those individuals were properly restrained, potentially saving them from more crippling injuries or death.