Recreational opportunities in the state of Missouri abound for the holiday weekend. Many may be staying close to home, visiting one of the state’s tourist destinations or going to the Missouri lake or river of their choice for the extended weekend. The Missouri Highway Patrol reminds motorists and boaters to stay safe and responsible this Memorial Day.
When driving, The MHP says to be aware of construction along your route, pay attention while you are driving and buckle up. MoDOT is easing up on road construction this weekend, but that doesn’t mean that some work may already be in progress.
To help reduce traffic violations, including alcohol-related incidents, the Patrol will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) during the weekend. This means every available officer will be on the road enforcing traffic laws and assisting motorists. In addition, the Patrol will assign troopers to 20-mile intervals along Interstates 35, 40, 44, 55, and 70, and U.S. Highways 60 and 63 on May 27 and May 30. Troopers taking part in this enforcement project will be alert for all traffic offenses and be especially vigilant to aggressive driving behavior. They will focus their attention on seat belt and child safety seat use, intoxicated drivers and speeding.
According to the MHP, over the 2010 Memorial Day weekend, six people died and 440 were injured in 1,010 traffic crashes. That is one person killed or injured every 10.5 minutes. Inattention, speeding and failing to yield the right-of-way were the leading contributing factors to those traffic crashes. This year's fatality counting period for the holiday weekend begins at 6 p.m. today and ends at 11:59 p.m., Monday May 30.
Memorial Day also is an unofficial start to the boating season. According to the MHP, during the 2010 Memorial Day weekend, there were 14 boating accidents with eight injuries and zero fatalities stemming from these accidents. However, three people drowned over that weekend. Officers arrested 36 people for boating while intoxicated.
The MHP reminds boaters that while they want everyone to have a great time on Missouri waterways, they ask that everyone be courteous to others on the water, wear a lifejacket and obey the law regarding safe operation of a vessel and no wake zones. Never operate a boat while intoxicated.
"We expect a large number of drivers and boaters this holiday,” Colonel Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway
Patrol, said in a statement. “I encourage everyone to make safety part of their three-day weekend plans. Please, don’t drink and drive; don’t drink and operate a boat; but do buckle your seat belt and wear your life jacket. We want all of you to have a safe, enjoyable holiday weekend.”
The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Water Patrol Division has established sobriety checkpoints along Missouri’s lakes and rivers as well. Studies have shown that it can take less alcohol to affect a person’s reaction time when out on the water, due to additional environmental stressors such as noise, wind, vibration, sun and the rocking motion of the boat.
If this is your first time out on your boat this year, water patrol suggests having a complete check of the vessel safety equipment before heading onto the water. A list of required safety equipment based on your boat’s length can be found in the Missouri Boating Handbook in the top right section of the water patrol division page. The Missouri State Highway Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or the U.S. Power Squadron also will do a courtesy equipment inspection for you. Visit the Highway Patrol website to find locations where officers will be available to assist.
Motorists in need of assistance or who want to report a crime should use the Highway Patrol's Highway Emergency number 1-800-525-5555 or *55 on a cellular phone. Boaters can also call *55 when out on the water for assistance. For road condition reports, travelers can call 1-800-222-6400 to hear about road construction areas throughout the state.