Holiday traffic builds; safety precautions advised.
COLUMBIA - The Missouri State Highway Patrol and MoDOT are stepping up safety efforts as the Fourth of July travel period ramps up.
MSHP is participating in operation C.A.R.E. The Crash Awareness & Reduction Effort means all available officers will be patrolling roadways to enforce traffic laws and assist motorists.
“Our biggest concerns are those injuries and those fatalities out there on the highway,” said Sgt. Scott White.
The Missouri Department of Transportation said it will reduce lane restrictions to improve highway safety.
The American Automobile Association predicts that almost 47 million Americans will be traveling 50 miles or more from home during the six-day holiday stretch.
Mindy Hays had those numbers in mind when she planned out her family’s trip to the Lake of the Ozarks this week.
“We had hoped to get on the road a little earlier than we did, but life happens,” Hays said. “We just wanted to get down there before the traffic gets too heavy and to be able to enjoy most of the day down there since it’s going to be nice weather.”
White said flexible schedules are a plus and advises people to hit the road earlier in the day if they can.
MoDOT said in a news release, motorists might hit traffic in the late afternoon when people leaving work mix with holiday travelers.
All agencies are encouraging drivers to be alert while driving.
“If people drove sober, wore their seatbelt and didn’t speed, the July Fourth holiday would be a lot more safe than it is,” White said.
In 2017, there were more than 1,000 traffic crashes in Missouri during the holiday. MoDOT reports 26 people were killed and 469 were injured last year.
Over the 2017 holiday, troopers arrested 172 people for driving while intoxicated.
The 2018 counting period for the Fourth of July will be from 6 p.m. today to 11:59 p.m. on July 4, a 30-hour counting period. The counting period last year was 102 hours. Last year's was so long because the holiday fell on a Tuesday.