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Highway Patrol: Have a safe Fourth of July weekend

Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, reminds the public that the Fourth of July weekend is a busy boating weekend and that Lake of the Ozarks is the busiest of the state’s waterways.

Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, reminds the public that the Fourth of July weekend is a busy boating weekend and that Lake of the Ozarks is the busiest of the state’s waterways. Photo by Samantha Edmondson.

The July Fourth holiday is fast approaching. All across Missouri, people will gather to have some fun, share a meal, or simply enjoy fireworks. Whether your plans will take place on land or water, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds travelers of the importance of taking responsibility for the safety of those around you.

In 2012, four people were killed and 194 injured in Missouri in 385 traffic crashes during the holiday. One person was killed or injured every 9.1 minutes. Of that total, troopers worked 104 crashes, including three fatalities and 56 injuries. They also arrested 59 people for driving while intoxicated during the 30 hour holiday period.

The counting period for this year’s July Fourth holiday will begin at 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 3, and end at 11:59 p.m., Sunday, July 7 for a total of 102 hours.

The Highway Patrol will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) over the holiday weekend. All available officers will be patrolling Missouri’s roadways enforcing the speed limit, seat belt, and alcohol laws, in addition to assisting motorists.

Troopers throughout the state will participate in a 20-Mile Trooper operation on Wednesday, July 3, and Sunday, July 7, 2013. The operation will include Interstates 35, 44, 55, and 70, and U.S. Highways 60 and 63, targeting traffic and aggressive driving violations.

Motorists who need assistance or who witness criminal activity should contact the nearest Highway Patrol troop headquarters by calling the Patrol Emergency Report Line at 1-800-525-5555 or *55 on a cell phone.

The Highway Patrol is also reminding the public that the Fourth of July holiday is one of the busiest boating days of the year. In 2012, there were zero boating fatalities, however four people were injured in boat accidents and three people drowned - one person drowned at Bull Shoals Lake and two at Lake of the Ozarks.

This year, additional officers will be on the state’s waterways to ensure the safety of boaters and Missourians are asked to do their part by remaining alert for other boats and swimmers, and by being courteous on the water.

The Water Patrol Division of the Highway Patrol also wants to remind boaters that it is illegal to discharge fireworks from a vessel so please leave the firecrackers at home when you venture out on the water.

The safe boating website, Tread Lightly is also offering the following safety tips for all boaters:

• Travel responsibly on designated waterways by launching your watercraft in designated areas.

• Travel only in areas open to your type of boat.

• Carry a Coast Guard approved life vest (PFD) for each person on board.

• Always operate your boat at a safe speed.

• Always have a designated lookout watching for other boaters, objects in the water and swimmers.

• Never jump a wake. If crossing a wake, cross at low speeds and keep a close lookout for skiers and other towables.

• Comply with all signs and respect all barriers, including speed limits, no-wake zones and underwater obstructions.

• Make every effort to always go boating with a partner.

• Make certain your trailer is in proper working order including all lights and make sure your boat is securely attached to the trailer.

•When trailering a boat, balance the load evenly including any items that are stowed inside the vessel.

• Never mix boating with alcohol or drugs.

• Respect the rights of others, including anglers, swimmers, skiers, boaters, divers and others so they can enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed.

• Be courteous in boat ramp areas by launching and retrieving your boat as quickly as possible.

• Keep the noise down, especially when close to the shoreline.

• Never cross private property without permission from the owner.

• Educate yourself prior to a trip by learning the rules and regulations of the area you will be visiting.

• Always tell someone when you leave, where you are going and when you expect to return.

• Check the weather forecast for your destination and keep in mind that thunderstorms and water recreation don’t mix.

• Make sure you have enough fuel and oil for the entire trip.

• Make sure your owner’s manual and registration are on board in waterproof containers.

• Always carry a Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher and flare.

• Prepare for the unexpected by packing a Global Positioning System (GPS), plenty of sunscreen, fresh water and snacks.

• And, always make sure there are enough Coast Guard approved lifejackets available for everyone on the boat and make sure all children wear a properly fitted lifejacket while they are on the water.

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