State tells drivers to call 911 in emergencies, not *77

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Emergency management officials are telling Rhode Island drivers to stop using a cell phone number that was set up years ago to report highway emergencies.

The Rhode Island State Police and Department of Transportation say drivers should call 911 in an emergency, not *77.

The *77 system was established in 1988 so drivers on Rhode Island’s interstates could report highway emergencies from cell phones.

Calls are routed to the closest state police barracks based on the call’s tower location.

But using *77 makes it more difficult to ascertain a motorist’s precise location. Calls to Rhode Island’s E911 Uniform Emergency Telephone System include latitude and longitude coordinates and a caller’s location is displayed within meters.

Police say *77 will work for another year.

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