JEFFERSON CITY - With one of the biggest holiday weekends approaching for the Lake of the Ozarks, The Missouri State Highway Patrol will be increasing the amount of police presence on both highways and waterways starting tomorrow.
With a holiday weekend comes the potential for an increase in water and traffic related accidents. Both the Missouri State Highway Patrol and their Water Patrol Division will be stepping up enforcement in all staff.
Spokesperson for the Missouri Water Patrol, Gerard Callahan urges boaters to think before they drink and boat in order to keep Missourians safe.
"Make sure you designate a sober skipper if you're going to have alcohol as part of your plan this weekend. Do that before you leave the dock so that there's no question about it," said Callahan.
He also emphasized the importance of life jacket use both on boats and docks.
"When you're on docks make sure you have life jackets because docks don't have railings like boats, in some ways you're more likely to fall in from a dock than when on a boat."
In addition to increased visible police presence on the lake, there is high possibility for sobriety checkpoints.
"Well typically with our sobriety checkpoints we will promote in a general sense, but we don't let people know the exact day we will be conducting those on," said Callahan. He emphasized that these checkpoints take place to keep everyone safe, which is way the exact times and dates are not announced.
On top of increasing patrol on the lake, officers will also increase patrol on all major Missouri highways. As part of a national campaign to keep motorists safe, the Highway Patrol will participate in Operation C.A.R.E. this weekend. The operation, which stands for Combined Accident Reduction Act, focuses on enforcing speed limits, seat belt, and alcohol laws. Starting tomorrow night, officers will begin a 20-mile trooper operation that ends Monday evening. Police will focus on all major Missouri highways and try to cut down on aggressive drivers. Police say they hope that drinking and driving will not be an issue, and a spokesperson for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, John Hotz offered some advice for drivers during this holiday weekend.
"If you're going to drink we want to make sure that you choose a safe way to get home and we want you to do that in advance. Unfortunately some people wait until they've already been drinking before they decide how they're going to get home, and that's when we see bad decisions made," said Hotz.
Last year four people were killed on Missouri waterways over the Labor Day Weekend. On top of those four, ten people were killed and 515 injured in traffic accidents. Police responded to more than 1,000 traffic crashes.