Col. Eric Olson, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, encourages Missouri’s travelers to make smart choices for a safe July Fourth holiday, a press release states.
"The state’s wide variety of recreational opportunities are a great way to celebrate our nation’s freedoms," the release states. "No matter what you plan for the long weekend, you can’t go wrong if you choose to follow all Missouri traffic and boating laws. It is also important to observe social distancing and other CDC guidelines related to the coronavirus and to stay home if feeling ill."
During the 2019 counting period, 15 people were killed and 457 injured in Missouri over the holiday in 1,109 traffic crashes. Also over the 2019 July Fourth holiday, troopers arrested 162 people for driving while intoxicated. In 2019, there were nine boating crashes, which included four injuries and zero fatalities. Three people drowned during last year's holiday and troopers made 13 boating while intoxicated arrests.
The 2020 counting period for the July Fourth holiday will be from 6 p.m., Thursday, July 2, to 11:59 p.m., Sunday, July 6, 2020.
MSHP will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness & Reduction Effort) and Operation Dry Water over the Fourth of July weekend. Operation Dry Water specifically targets impaired vessel operators. All available troopers will be patrolling Missouri roadways and waterways to enforce traffic and boating laws and offering assistance as needed.
The release asks Missourians to remember statutes direct motorists to drive with the highest degree of care.
"There is never a good reason to drive over the speed limit," the release states. "Please be a courteous driver and follow all traffic laws. Never drink and drive, and always use a seat belt."
Missouri’s boaters also are asked to do their part by remaining alert for other boats and swimmers while being courteous on the water. With more boats on the water, it is important to pay attention when operating your vessel, states the release.
"Never operate a vessel if you’ve consumed alcohol," the release states. "Boaters need to be aware that it is illegal to discharge fireworks from a vessel. Leave all fireworks in a safe place on shore."
Anyone needing assistance or who witnesses 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.