Memorial Day crash numbers increase from 2015

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JEFFERSON CITY - Memorial Day Weekend 2016 traffic crash, boat crash and intoxication numbers rose from 2015. 

The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) investigated 347 traffic crashes and seven fatalities over the holiday weekend.

That's up from 298 traffic crashes and 98 injuries in 2015, the MSHP said.

"One thing we did notice was three of the six traffic fatalities that we investigated involved alcohol," said Cpt. John Hotz of MSHP.  "Certainly that's a concern. We don't want to see people using alcohol before they driving because that leads to often tragic results."

Boating crashes were also up from the previous year: seven boat crashes with seven injuries. Twenty-one people were arrested for boating while intoxicated and 71 drug arrests. 

In 2015 there were eight boat crashes, with on injury and no fatalities. Fifteen people were arrested for boating while intoxicated. 

Kelly Richardson and her family have owned a lake house for the past 4 years at the Lake of the Ozarks, she is also a licensed boater. 

"I think drinking is such a big part of the culture down there that just everybody think's that it's okay to be drinking while you're boating," she said.

Richardson said many people drink too much, probably because, with so many boats on the water, they believe they won't be investigated.

"It's very unlikely, unless you're acting absolutely crazy, the chances of you getting pulled over by one of the police boats. I think people think they're safe and can drink however much they want when in reality that is not the case." 

Hotz said boaters and drivers need to keep two things in mind:

"Number one, obey the speed limit, number two, pay attention. Driving is a full time job. And make sure you're driving sober."

He said drivers and passengers also need to remember to wear their seat belts.