SIKESTON - With the Fourth of July being the most heavily traveled holiday of the year besides Thanksgiving, large amounts of traffic are imminent. But with the holiday being on Wednesday this year, Missouri Highway Patrol Officers expect a decline in the usual number of travelers.
"This year won't be quite as bad because it's during the middle of the week," Sgt. Dale Moreland, public information officer for Troop E of the Missouri Highway Patrol, said. "Most people will be making local trips instead of longer trips on three or four day holiday weekends."
The Highway Patrol will participate in the nationwide Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) over the holiday. The patrol has been part of the program since 1978. During Operation C.A.R.E., all available officers will patrol Missouri's roadways enforcing speed limit, seat belt, and alcohol laws, in addition to being available to assist motorists. The counting period for the July Fourth holiday will be from 6 p.m., Tuesday to 11:59 p.m., Wednesday.
Last year, 12 persons were killed and 840 injured in Missouri over the holiday in 1,669 traffic crashes. One person was killed or injured every 7.2 minutes. Over the past five years, 74 people have been killed and 3,664 have been injured in traffic crashes on Missouri's roadways over the July Fourth holiday.
Moreland noted that most crashes happen on smaller, two-lane roads that lead to campground and lake or river areas, not interstates.
"July Fourth is a time to celebrate the freedoms we have in this great country," Col. James F. Keathley, superintendent of the Highway Patrol, said. "If you're driving to see friends or family, please think safety, obey all traffic laws, and pay attention to the traffic around you. One second of inattention is all it takes for a traffic crash to occur. If your celebration includes alcohol, don't drive."
Motorists who need assistance or who witness criminal activity while traveling on Missouri's roadways can contact the nearest Highway Patrol troop headquarters by calling the Patrol Emergency Report Line at 1-800-525-5555 or *55 on a cellular phone.