Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association Shares Road Safety Tips Ahead of Fourth of July Holiday

PROVIDENCE — With summer in full swing and the Fourth of July holiday this weekend, the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association wishes to remind residents of important safety tips for motor vehicle and motorcycle operators.

Law enforcement and highway safety officials gathered in North Kingstown on Friday to raise awareness of the importance of safe and sober driving this weekend, and to inform the public of enhanced impaired driving patrols statewide.

Law enforcement agencies across the state will be participating in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over impaired driving awareness campaign. Officers will be patrolling the roadways looking for signs of impaired drivers and agencies will be deploying Drug Recognition Experts who will monitor the roads for drivers operating under the influence of cannabis. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 12,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes that involved an alcohol-impaired driver in 2021. That same year, over 500 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes over the July 4th holiday period (6 p.m. July 2 to 5:59 a.m. July 6).  

Nighttime is a particularly dangerous time to be on the roads as the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2021 was 3.1 times higher at night than during the day.

Rhode Island also saw an increase in fatalities in 2021 with 63. Of those fatalities, 45 were drivers and 33% were recorded as alcohol-related. However, Rhode Island did not record any holiday fatalities over the July 4th holiday period for the past two years.

The NHTSA offers the following safety tips for drivers:

Motor Vehicle Safety

  • If you plan to drink, make a plan ahead of time for a sober ride home.
  • Even if you’ve had only one drink, let someone who hasn’t been drinking take you home. A sober driver is one who does not drink at all, not the one who’s had the least to drink.
  • If you’re hosting a Fourth of July gathering, help the designated drivers out by making sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available.
  • Have a friend who is about to drive impaired? Take the keys away and make arrangements to get your friend home safely.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, safely pull over and call 911. 
  • Always wear your seat belt — and wear it correctly. It should go over your shoulder and across your lap.
  • Drive the speed limit. It’s unsafe to drive too fast or too slow.
  • Never eat, drink or use a cell phone while driving.

Motorcycle Safety

Motorcyclists are also reminded to take safety precautions. While motorcycles only represent a small percentage of vehicles on Rhode Island roads, they represent a significant percentage of those involved in fatal crashes, and this percentage is even more drastic when accounting for crashes involving alcohol.

  • Always wear a helmet, and look for the DOT sticker (which guarantees the helmet meets safety standards required by law). Never buy a used helmet.
  • New riders should take a motorcycle safety course, and experienced riders should take refresher courses after being off their bikes for a while.
  • Never drink and ride.
  • Drive defensively, especially at intersections, where half of all collisions occur.
  • Assume you are invisible to other motorists and position yourself to be seen.
  • Wear bright and/or reflective clothing that is durable and boots that cover the ankles.

The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association wishes everyone a safe and healthy Fourth of July holiday!

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Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association Shares Road Safety Tips Ahead of Fourth of July Holiday