July 4th 2005

With six traffic-related fatalities during last year's Fourth of July holiday period, Department of Public Safety officials are urging Oklahomans to make safety their primary concern during this holiday period.

"Since July 4th is on a Monday, the number of people traveling may increase," said DPS Spokesperson Lt. Brandon Kopepasah. "Some people will take Friday off to extend the holiday and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Oklahoma Lake Patrol will be taking steps to make this holiday a safe one."

The OHP will participate in Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), an international traffic enforcement effort. These operations concentrate on drinking drivers, speeding, seat belt and child passenger restraint usage. "For those who only have Monday off, we encourage them not to rush, but take your time and plan ahead in order to arrive safely at the recreation areas," said Lt. Kopepasah.

Of the six victims during last year's July 4th holiday, four fatalities were alcohol related, according to Norwood. The contributing factors in the collisions were alcohol, speed and left-of-center. Also, only four of the victims were using safety equipment at the time of the collision.

Lake conditions are prime for a busy 4th of July holiday. With the long weekend and good weather conditions projected, the Oklahoma Lake Patrol is anticipating a busy weekend.

Boaters are reminded to "know before you go". if your boat is mechanically sound and properly equipped with the required equipment: Personal Floatation Devices (life jackets for each person on board); lights; sounding device (whistle or horn); fire extinguisher (if your boat utilizes flammable liquid); current registration (with registration paperwork on board).

"The most important thing boaters can take with them is common sense. The majority of boating mishaps involve two-vessel collisions. Nationally, more people die in alcohol-related boating collisions during the 4th of July weekend than any other weekend of the year," said 1Lt. George Green, Lake Patrol commander. "Last year in Oklahoma over the 4th of July there were four boating incidents resulting in one fatality and six injuries."

Citizens are encouraged to review the laws relating to boating safety on state waterways:

  • No one under 12 years of age may solely operate a personal watercraft (JetSki, Wetbike, SeaDoo, etc.)
  • One appropriately sized coast guard approved life jacket for every person in the boat.

Lt. Green urges boaters to use caution and observe navigation rules in congested areas on the water.