PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – From “drive sober and live to grill another day” to “let’s fill potholes, not graves,” the Rhode Island Department of Transportation says it’s this new approach to curb impaired driving which has caught the public’s eye.
“Its conjured up a lot of conversation, some controversy, but I think in a good way, all aimed at making the roads safer and stopping people from participating in this very dangerous and deadly practice of driving under the influence,” said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti.
Six months after an Eyewitness News exclusive, “Signs of Change,” RIDOT says their ten-year plan involving the new electronic road signs is working.
“Its had its desired effect or is having its desired effect,” said Alviti.
RIDOT began using catchy, two-line slogans on their highway message boards back in February with the main goal of saving lives on local roads. RIDOT is looking to eradicate all drunk driving fatalities on Rhode Island roads in the next ten years. But according to RIDOT data, fatalities are actually up this year.
These are “the incidents where loved ones have been taken away from us because of the actions of irresponsible people,” said Alviti.
RIDOT manages 130 traffic cameras and approximately 30 message boards from their Traffic Management Center. It’s the first place where a car crash can be identified, and Rhode Island State Police can be notified.
Alviti says the ideas for what to write in the highway message boards is a collaborative effort at the DOT.
“We implemented several messages with the help of initially–kind of to plant the seed–from RDW group, and then eventually it evolved into us getting ideas not only from the public, but going to, for example, our employees here at DOT,” said Alviti.
As to whether the signs can be a distraction on the road, Alviti said “the signs are designed to serve the purpose for being able to get a message to people who are driving in a safe manner and we haven’t found that to be the case.”
However, Director Alviti says the DOT is still monitoring the impacts of these signs.
“Some of it controversial, some of it positive, some of it negative, but much of it impactful.”