The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) will begin a pilot program Tuesday, November 14th that involves service vehicles patrolling Providence-area highways to help clear disabled vehicles stopped on the side of the road. This is not an on-call service, but rather a RIDOT-directed effort to clear congestion on our highways.
As is the model in other states with similar service vehicles, the RIDOT Roadside Responders will patrol high-volume highways in Providence and stop whenever they encounter a disabled vehicle. By getting people on their way as quickly as possible, this will reduce congestion and keep traffic flowing, reduce the risk of secondary crashes, and improve safety.
This program is not meant to take the place of any roadside assistance or towing service, such as AAA. Drivers of disabled vehicles should still reach out to their roadside assistance providers as soon as possible after pulling over safely into the shoulder.
The Roadside Responder vehicles are specially marked Ford F-350 pickup trucks equipped with safety lights and a variety of tools and supplies to help motorists in need. They will be able to provide fuel, change flat tires, make minor mechanical repairs, jump start a dead battery, or call for a tow truck if needed.
RIDOT has launched a pilot program to help move disabled vehicles off our roadways.
Our Roadside Responder program has two vehicles constantly patrolling our high-volume highways to find and move vehicles that are blocking lanes. Today alone, this program helped five vehicles.… pic.twitter.com/4W5PZbCU8Q
The vehicles also will assist first responders by providing traffic control during an incident and provide RIDOT real-time information regarding any potential issues or hazards such as potholes or debris in the road.
“These vehicles will be an extra set of hands and extra pair of eyes on our busiest highways,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. “By helping others who have the misfortune to break down on the side of the Interstate, we will keep the highways flowing better and safer for all drivers.”
Under the pilot program, two vehicles will patrol all of I-195 in Rhode Island and I-95 from the Massachusetts state line in Pawtucket to the Airport Connector in Warwick during peak travel times in the morning (6:30-9:30 a.m.) and evening (3:30-6:30 p.m.), Monday through Friday. RIDOT will dispatch the Roadside Responder vehicles as needed. Each vehicle will be equipped with a GPS device to allow RIDOT to track their location in real-time.
RIDOT estimates that every year the Roadside Responder service will save 238,000 hours of vehicle delays, 58,000 gallons of fuel and 580 tons of carbon emissions.
Based on the results of the pilot program, RIDOT may expand the services in the future and add more vehicles, increase coverage times or include additional roadways to be patrolled.
There is no cost to motorists who are aided by the Roadside Responder vehicles. RIDOT is funding this program using 80 percent federal funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provided an additional $575 million to Rhode Island to improve our transportation system and make it safer and more efficient.
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