Memorial Day weekend safety tips from Missouri Highway Patrol

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Memorial Day weekend brings Missouri to life with busy state parks, lakes, and attractions, along with sporting events, barbecues, and gatherings of friends and family. Our state has a lot to offer, especially when the weather is nice. A little planning will go a long way to making your Memorial Day weekend activities a success. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds everyone to include safety when they plan their holiday weekend. Everyone should expect more travelers on Missouri’s roadways and an increase in boating traffic on the state’s lakes and rivers. Drivers and boat operators are reminded to follow all Missouri’s laws and be courteous. Always wear a seat belt when traveling in a vehicle, and wear a life jacket when near, on, or in the water.

This year’s Memorial Day holiday counting period begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 24, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 27, 2024. Every available trooper will be on the road or the water, enforcing Missouri laws and assisting people. Troopers on our roadways will focus their attention on hazardous moving violations, speed violations, and impaired drivers. The Patrol will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness Reduction Effort) during Memorial Day weekend.

Over the 2023 Memorial Day holiday weekend, 13 people died and 403 were injured in 990 traffic crashes. Troopers worked 287 traffic crashes involving 12 fatalities and 117 injuries. The Memorial Day weekend is also an unofficial start to the boating season. During the 2023 Memorial Day weekend, there were 10 boating crashes which included no fatalities and two injuries. No one drowned over last year’s Memorial Day weekend. Last year, troopers made 137 driving while intoxicated and eight boating while intoxicated arrests.

Always be courteous and pay attention, whether you’re operating a vehicle or a vessel, and choose to be a sober driver on land and the water. A safe, fun weekend is the result of planning and making good decisions.

Motorists or boaters in need of assistance or who want to report a crime should use the Highway Patrol’s Emergency Assistance number 1-800-525-5555 (or *55 on a cellular phone). For road condition reports, travelers can visit the Patrol’s website at Missouri State Highway Patrol. Click on the Road Condition icon to view road construction areas as well as road conditions throughout the state or call 1-888-275-6636.

Motorists are encouraged to do their part to make Missouri’s roadways safer. Speed, inattention, and impaired driving are leading causes of traffic crashes. Obey all traffic laws and make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained in a seat belt or child restraint.

When you’re on the water, be courteous to others enjoying Missouri’s lakes and rivers, wear a life jacket, and obey the law regarding the safe operation of a vessel. Always observe no wake zones. Causing harm to another person or their property with an excessive boat wake may subject you to enforcement action or civil liability.

When you’re traveling up Missouri’s rivers in a jet boat, turn off the motor for a second and listen before navigating around that bend. River bends create blind spots. Listening for boats coming down the river allows you time to give way. Also, jet boats should stay closer to the center of the river to give floaters room.

When operating a power-driven vessel, it’s important to understand the rules of navigation. Power-driven vessels must give way to anchored or disabled vessels, vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver, and commercial fishing vessels. Power-driven vessels also yield to a sailboat under sail unless it is overtaking. Observing right-of-way rules makes our waterways safer for everyone.

Always treat other boaters and property owners as you want to be treated. Never operate a boat while you are impaired; never ride with an impaired operator. 

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