LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) — If you took I-95 to get to your Thanksgiving destination Wednesday, you may have seen a quirky, yet important, message from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT): “Feast your eyes on a safe trip home. Drive sober.”
The holiday season is upon us, and with thousands of people traveling for Thanksgiving, law enforcement agencies are reminding everyone who’s hitting the road to drive safely and responsibly.
The day before Thanksgiving, commonly known as “Blackout Wednesday,” is one the most dangerous travel days of the holiday season because of impaired driving, according to the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association.
RIPCA President Brian Sullivan said police will be out in full force this holiday season and will be zeroing in on impaired and distracted drivers.
RIPCA reported that over the past five years, Thanksgiving week saw more motor vehicle deaths than any other holiday. Last year alone, the RIPCA said there were 59 fatalities, with 34% of those crashes involving an impaired driver.
RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said all crashes involving drunk driving are “100% preventable.”
“We’re all motivated to get to zero deaths on our roadways, that is the only acceptable number,” Alviti said.
The RIPCA is also reminding everyone to slow down and move over for law enforcement, tow truck drivers and other vehicles parked along the side of the highway, especially after an incident Tuesday night.
Rhode Island State Police Col. James Manni said Ryan Draine, 29, of Cumberland, was arrested for driving under the influence after he crashed his vehicle into a state trooper’s cruiser — which was parked in the breakdown lane on I-95.
Manni said the trooper was not inside the vehicle at the time and was not injured, adding that the cruiser itself prevented him from being hit.
“I’m convinced that, if that cruiser was not there… it would have been a very serious accident,” Manni said.
AAA Northeast’s Lloyd Albert also stressed the importance of complying with Rhode Island’s hands-free law.
“Put the phone down,” Albert said. “I see it way too often, distracted driving is a killer.”
The RIPCA said anyone who notices an impaired or unsafe driver should immediately contact the police.