Police urge drivers to stay vigilant on RI roadways


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Following the results of a highway safety campaign for Distracted Driving Awareness Month, state police are reminding drivers to keep their eyes on the road.

According to the Rhode Island State Police, troopers stopped 813 vehicles on the state’s highways and issued 93 warnings and citations last week during the “U Drive. U text. U Pay.” campaign. Police said of those, 65 citations and warnings were issued for violating the “Hands-Free Law” and the other 28 were for texting while driving.

Within the past year, Major Christopher Dicomitis said troopers have cited more than 1,200 people for distracted driving, with approximately 900 of those for violating the “Hands-Free Law.” He said distracted driving is an unfortunate reality that can lead to a preventable tragedy.

“People drive distracted every day,” he said. “The three thousand pound vehicle you’re operating can turn into a three thousand pound weapon instantly.”

Anyone caught talking or texting on a hand-held device could be fined up to $100 with a license suspension of up to 30 days.

Dicomitis said troopers also have to be aware of their surroundings when they respond to a crash, especially on the highway.

“We’ve been lucky here in Rhode Island, in regards to our troopers and law enforcement being involved in motor vehicle crashes, but other states haven’t been so lucky,” Dicomitis said.

Earlier this month, a Maine State Police Detective was hit and killed while helping a driver along I-95. With a busy construction season coming up, Dicomitis said it is important for drivers to abide by the “Move Over Law” and to keep their eyes on the road.

“We encourage motorists to be aware that these areas are narrow or usually lane restrictions,” Dicomitis said.

The Move Over Law requires drivers on Rhode Island roads to change lanes or slow down when first responders, tow trucks or Department of Transportation crews are pulled over. Anyone who violates the Move Over Law could receive a fine of up to $85.

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