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RIDOT has started a pilot program that involves service vehicles patrolling Providence-area highways to help clear disabled vehicles stopped on the side of the road. Getting people on their way as quickly as possible will reduce congestion and keep traffic flowing, reduce the risk of secondary crashes, and improve safety.
This is not an on-call service, but rather a RIDOT-directed effort to clear congestion on our highways. It’s not meant to take the place of any roadside assistance or towing service, such as AAA, and 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.