With RI roadway deaths up this year, leaders encourage sober driving

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — “Be on the nice list. Drive sober.”

That’s one of the messages you might see along Rhode Island highways as the R.I. Department of Transportation (RIDOT) urges revelers to make safe choices this holidays season.

RIDOT, along with AAA Northeast, R.I. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and state and local law enforcement, held an event Thursday to ask people to pledge to not get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated.

“It really does come down to personal responsibility,” Kilmartin said. “We need to look out for one another, we need to look out for ourselves, we need to say to our friend or our family member, ‘Give me the keys, better yet, arrange for that ride before.'”

“There are many families that are not going to have the ability to enjoy each other’s company or the company of a loved one this year,” added RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr.

Kilmartin’s office said deaths on Rhode Island roadways are up 76 percent for the first 11 months of this year compared to the same time period last year.

“We have witnessed more than 80 people dying on our roads in Rhode Island this year – 30 more people than we saw in all of 2016,” Alviti said. “This holiday season, if you see someone leaving a party or anywhere else you are, and they are impaired and intent on driving home, help that person in any way you can so they don’t make the wrong decision.”

“Eighty individuals won’t be sitting down to Christmas dinner this year; 80 individuals won’t ring in the New Year with family and friend, and 80 individuals are being mourned by loved ones,” said Kilmartin. “We all have the power to end the impaired driving on our roadways.”

Officials asked that people plan ahead by either designating a driver or calling a taxi or car service. They also urged people to wear seat belts and to report suspected drunk drivers by calling 911.

To convey the far-reaching impact of the decision to drink and drive, RIDOT created a public service announcement featuring a mother visiting the grave of her son who was killed by a drunk and wrong-way driver last year.

“It has a ripple effect through our communities, through our families, that goes way beyond just the people that are involved in the crash,” Alviti said. “They are real people, they are all taken before their time.”

Police also reminded drivers that patrols will be increased around the state during the holidays in an effort to crack down on drunk driving.

In addition to driving sober, those hitting the road for the holidays should also do so with caution, especially Friday into Saturday. The Pinpoint Weather Team expects an icy mix of snow, freezing rain and rain to move through the Northeast starting early to mid-morning on Friday.

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