With Oklahoma returning to a sense of normalcy after the COVID-19 situation, that means lakes and rivers are open for guests this Memorial Day weekend.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP) and the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) said while social distancing and hand hygiene are still important, so is the need to socialize and visit with friends during the opening of the summer season. That’s why they’re encouraging those headed to the lake, river or down the road to celebrate the long weekend to pack a plan to get home safe.
During the 2019 Memorial Day holiday period in Oklahoma, two people were killed in crashes and one of those was in an alcohol-related crash. That's down significantly from 11 people killed in 2018. While that decline is great news, Oklahoma still lost two people last year in preventable crashes, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Chris Arnall said.
"We will have troopers on the roads, in the water, and in the air making sure people are being safe this holiday weekend," Arnall said. "We want to make sure everyone enjoys the time with friends and family, but we want them all to make it home safe."
Those who plan to head to the lake or river should take all supplies they’ll need before they make camp. This will save people from having to run back to the store after they’ve started drinking, the safety organizations state.
Still, law enforcement will remain on duty on the roadways and will look for impaired drivers this weekend.
The OHP’s marine enforcement division, Troop W, will have all available troopers out and working on area lakes this Memorial Day weekend, according to Troop W Captain Mike Sharp.
“We urge everyone to consider safety on the water as well as on the roads,” Sharp said. "Have a life jacket onboard your vessel for each passenger, children 12 years old or younger must wear a life jacket if they are on a vessel that is less than 26 feet in length. Never operate boats or personal watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs."
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol will team up with local law enforcement across the state to put a special emphasis on impaired driving enforcement this weekend. Several agencies in the areas around popular lakes and rivers will have officers working with the ENDUI Oklahoma Impaired Driving Liaison troopers to get impaired drivers off the roads.
"We understand everyone wants to have a good time. We just ask that you follow certain rules and use common sense to avoid a tragedy that could have been prevented,” said Sharp.