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Patrol: Celebrate Safely July Fourth Weekend!

Colonel Eric T. Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, is encouraging Missouri’s travelers to make smart choices for a safe July Fourth holiday. Many people will travel somewhere to enjoy the wide variety of recreational opportunities in our state. No matter what you plan for the long weekend, you can choose to follow all Missouri traffic and boating laws.

During the 30-hour counting period in 2018, four people were killed and 220 injured in Missouri over the holiday in 437 traffic crashes. Over the 2018 July Fourth holiday, troopers arrested 40 people for driving while intoxicated.

The 2019 counting period for the July Fourth holiday will be from 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 3, to 11:59 p.m., Sunday, July 7, 2019. 

The Highway Patrol will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness & Reduction Effort) over the July Fourth holiday weekend. In addition, a 2019 Independence Day DWI Enforcement operation will be in effect during the long weekend. Troopers will strictly enforce Missouri statutes addressing driving while intoxicated, underage drinking, possession of intoxicating liquor by a minor, and intoxication by a minor. 

Over the long holiday weekend, all available officers will be patrolling Missouri’s roadways enforcing Missouri’s traffic laws in addition to being available to assist motorists. Remember: Statutes direct motorists to drive with the highest degree of care. There is never a good reason to drive over the speed limit. Please be a courteous driver and follow all traffic laws. Never drink and drive, and always use a seat belt!

Motorists who need assistance or who witness criminal activity while traveling on Missouri’s roadways or waterways can contact the nearest Highway Patrol troop headquarters by calling the Patrol Emergency Report Line at 1-800-525-5555 or *55 on a cellular phone. Motorists may call 1-888-275-6636 to check for road construction along their travel route.

The only 100 percent survivable traffic crash is the one that never happens. Make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint. Every day as we travel on Missouri’s roadways, we trust that every driver on the road is going to obey the speed limit, pay attention, and drive sober. “Don’t Violate The Trust.”

Col. Olson also reminds the public that the Fourth of July holiday is one of the busiest boating holidays of the year. Many waterways in Missouri are experiencing high water conditions, so boaters need to remain aware of that. 

“Boat wakes may cause additional damage or unnecessary erosion to flood affected properties,” said Col. Olson. “High water often creates additional debris in the water, so boaters should maintain a proper lookout for potential hazards.”

In 2018, there were four boating crashes, which included two injuries and zero fatalities. Three people drowned during last year’s July Fourth holiday. Troopers made five boating while intoxicated arrests in 2018. 

Troopers will be working on the state’s waterways to enforce Missouri’s boating laws and assist where needed. Missouri’s boaters are asked to do their part by remaining alert for other boats and swimmers, and being courteous on the water. With more boats on the water, it is even more important to pay attention when operating your vessel. Boaters need to be aware that it is illegal to discharge fireworks from a vessel. Leave all fireworks in a safe place on shore. 

While enjoying your time on the water, remember:

• Distractions and alcohol consumption slow reaction time. 

• Pay attention to other boats and watercraft.

• Make boating maneuvers early and deliberately when encountering other vessels.

• Be responsible with your wake.

The many firework displays after dark attract many more boaters at night. At night, remember to:

• Check your vessel’s navigation lights before heading out, and be sure to have spare bulbs on board. 

• Avoid overloading your boat with too many passengers. This can cause the boat to become swamped and affect the handling of the boat. 

• Observe Missouri’s nighttime speed limit of 30 miles per hour on the water. 

• Slow down and take your time. Nighttime crashes tend to involve more serious injuries and damage, due to the lack of visibility.

Watercraft operators must consider the effect their actions have on others: Share the waterway and use common sense, good judgment, and courtesy to ensure the safety of all. Life jackets save lives. Wear It!!

“July Fourth weekend is a time to appreciate the opportunities and freedom we enjoy in this country,” said Col. Olson. “As you gather with friends and family, be safe. Use a seat belt or a life jacket when you’re on the road or water. Please stay alert and obey the law, and should you include alcohol in your July Fourth celebration, designate a sober operator.”