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RIDOT’s leader passionate about anti-impaired driver campaign

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has shuffled around its budget to earmark $3 million on its anti-impaired driver campaign. (The Rhode Island Department of Transportation) 

The number of traffic fatalities so far in 2017 in Rhode Island is up to 79, compared to 51 last year.

That's why the Rhode Island Department of Transportation has shuffled around its budget to earmark $3 million on its anti-impaired driver campaign.

One of the paid commercials playing on local TV shows a scene of a woman in the rain carrying an umbrella, visiting a loved one's grave. The voiceover says, "It's something I never pictured I'd have to do."

For Peter Alviti, who is the director of the RIDOT, it's personal.

"It's lives, it's family members, it's brothers, it's sisters, it's cousins, it's sons and daughters that we're losing, on a daily, monthly, yearly basis,” he said.

After a series of reports two years ago on NBC 10 News, coinciding with Alviti taking the helm at RIDOT, the sheer number of wrong way driver fatalities, many caused by impaired drivers, were reduced by improving signage and design at highway exit ramps, where impaired drivers accessed the roads in the wrong direction.

But, said Alviti, even engineered solutions don't work.

“They just drive right through them,” he said.

The second of the two RIDOT commercials on this theme is set in the state morgue, with video of bodies covered in sheets, being put into storage. The voiceover tells the story: "It's one thing to make poor choices for yourself. But when you make poor choices that can affect others, they may wind up here."

Alviti is passionate about the message.

“(It’s) such a simple problem to solve and it all begins at the center with a decision that's made,” Alviti said. “The decision by a person to get into a car and drive it when they're impaired. But it ripples in the lives way beyond just what happened at the scene of that accident where someone died. There's a ripple effect from a single decision and that's permanent -- permanent."

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