Major Thomas E. Roam of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Water Patrol Division encourages boaters to be extra vigilant with their water safety practices over the July Fourth holiday weekend. The Independence Day holiday is often the busiest single weekend on Missouri’s waters. Given the potential for high volumes of boating traffic it becomes even more important for boaters to keep a proper lookout and to the extent possible use the navigation rules on the water. Last year there were 17 boating crashes worked over the holiday weekend. There was one boating fatality and two drowning deaths over the weekend. There were 40 boating while intoxicated arrests across the state.

Being on the water after sunset poses additional issues boaters need to take into account. If you plan to be out after dark be sure to make sure your boat’s navigation lights are working and have extra bulbs on board. While there are fewer boat crashes after dark they tend to involve more serious injuries due to reduced reaction times and distances. Slow down and allow for extra room between other boats. Missouri’s night time speed limit on the water is 30 miles per hour. Viewing fireworks from the water can be unique experience but it is illegal to light fireworks from a boat so leave them at shore.

Flooding may affect holiday boating plans in certain areas of the state. The Mississippi and Missouri river have seen prolonged flooding this year. River closures on the Missouri River have been expanded. The river is closed up stream from mile mark 397 in Platte County Missouri. Stronger currents and debris can make boating in high water more dangerous. Most of Missouri’s lakes and smaller streams seem to be in favorable shape for water enthusiasts. With a favorable forecast, this Independence Day weekend should be a great chance to get out on the water. Boat smart and remember that safety starts before leaving the dock.