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Motorists Urged to Drive Carefully and Protect People in Work Zones

National recognition week is April 9-13

Spring is here, and with it comes a sharp increase of the number of men and women out on the roads, fixing potholes, clearing drains, resurfacing streets, building bridges and working on many other projects. It's also a time when motorists are encouraged to drive carefully in work zones, part of National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 9-13, 2018.

Today the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) joined with the Rhode Island State Police, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and representatives of organized labor across Rhode Island at a work zone on Airport Road in Warwick. They shared a common message - to encourage motorists to drive carefully and help protect those working in hazardous conditions close to live traffic to maintain and improve our roads and bridges.

"I'd like to thank everyone who puts on a reflective vest and hardhat and goes to work in what can be a stressful environment that is sometimes just a few feet from high-speed traffic," Governor Gina M. Raimondo said. "I ask all Rhode Islanders to do their part to slow down, obey the signs and be on the lookout for the men and women out there making the roads better for all of us."

"We are grateful for the Governor's RhodeWorks program to provide us with the financial resources to rebuild our roads and bridges and create jobs, and while asking the motoring public to slow down and drive carefully in work zones, we ask for their patience and cooperation as we go about the task of rebuilding our infrastructure," RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said.

Across the country, more than 700 people die each year in work-zone related accidents and more than 25,000 injuries are reported. On average across the country, a work zone crash occurs every 5.4 minutes and each week there are 12 work zone crashes that involved at least one death. A large majority of those killed, about 85 percent, are not the workers on the road, but the driver or occupant of the vehicle involved in the crash.

"Work zone incidents impact everyone, and today, I ask that you share this message with your associates, workers, family and friends. The person in the backhoe is not just an operator, the worker with the shovel is not just a laborer, and the flagger helping you maneuver through the work zone is not just a flagger. They are someone's mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter," said FHWA Rhode Island Division Administrator Carlos Machado. "Work zone safety is everyone's responsibility. Avoid distraction and do your job, just drive."

"The primary mission of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses," said Kevin Carter, Rhode Island Division Administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. "Work Zone crashes, whether they involve trucks, cars, buses or motorcycles, are avoidable. Please be patient, avoid distractions, don't speed or tailgate, obey road crews and signs and just drive."

In 2008, Rhode Island passed the "move over" law, which requires drivers to move over a lane when approaching a first responder stopped on the road. In 2014, the law was expanded to include construction and highway maintenance workers. Even if drivers can't change lanes when approaching workers or first responders, the law requires them to slow down and leave as much space as possible between their vehicle and the stopped vehicles.

"The top three causes of crashes in work zones are driver distraction, speed and impairment," said Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety. "These driving behaviors are not only illegal, but also pose a tremendous risk of injury and death - especially for those in work zones. This will not be tolerated. We owe it to our road crews, our troopers and all law enforcement to help keep work zones safe."

"As the number of roadwork and bridge projects increase, let us remember that safety in work zones won't happen by itself. It begins with teamwork and we must constantly remind motorists about work zone danger and our commitment to safety," said Raymond C. Coia, Administrator for the New England Laborers' Health and Safety Fund. "Safety works when people work together. As the roadwork season gets busy, let's remember that safety isn't a slogan, it needs to be a way of life."

RIDOT offers the following suggestions for motorists as they encounter more construction vehicles and workers in the coming weeks and months:

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 be Distracted: Don't engage in distracting activities, especially the use of electronic devices.

Merge when Directed: 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; Stay Calm: Remember that work zones are not set up to inconvenience motorists. They 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 Additional information may be found on RIDOT's Twitter and Facebook sites. Weekly traffic forecasts also are sent to all Rhode Island media and traffic reporting services, and are published each Saturday in the Providence Journal.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Department of Transportation
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  • Release date: 04-10-2018

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