State prepares to increase safety measures on the lake
OSAGE BEACH - The Missouri State Highway Patrol announced efforts to decrease the amount of boaters under the influence.
On Monday, the Missouri State Highway Patrol announced it would participate in Operation Dry Water. Operation Dry Water is a national campaign where officers focus on keeping impaired boat drivers off the water.
"Floating, swimming, and boating activities should be fun, safe experiences. When your family or friends plan a water outing, make sure safety is part of the discussion," Missouri State Highway Patrol Superintendent Colonel Sandra Karsten said in a news release.
This year's Operation Dry Water will take place from June 30 through July 2.
538 agencies participated in last year's operation and removed more than 300 intoxicated boaters. In Missouri, law enforcement arrested 11 people and gave more than 600 warnings.
Alcohol remains a prime factor for accidents said Missouri State Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Sergeant Scott White.
In 2017, more than 20 people have died or been seriously injured on the water.
MSHP is the only law enforcement entity on the Lake of the Ozarks.
Surdyke's Port 20 manager Jim Cramer said the officers and their efforts to increase safety create a constant presence on the Lake of the Ozarks.
"I've seen safety numbers get better," said Cramer, who also grew up around the lake. "There's a lot, a lot of boaters here, and so for the number of incidents the lake so it's actually a very safe lake."
Cramer says his marina often passes out brochures and policies from the highway patrol to help spread education.
“The more education that you have for this kind of stuff, the safer it will be,” Cramer said.
Lori File has also grew up vacationing at the lake and also said she believes the efforts to decrease impaired boaters is needed.
“I think it’s a good idea because you really have to watch out. There’s a lot of kids in these boats, and they’re not paying attention. They’re drinking and some of these boats are very large and a small boat like ours the wake can get in trouble really quick," File said.
File also stressed the need for boaters to keep life jackets on board, be conscious of other boaters, and just be smart.
White said the agency has been a part of the national campaign since 2011 and serves to spread awareness. He said it's a choice and boaters should always choose a sober captain.