While social distancing guidelines have been lessen for regions across the United States, socializing opportunities are becoming more apparent. With the Memorial Day weekend fast approaching, area residents and guests are expected to gather around regional lakes and rivers.
Not to lessen the importance of social distancing and personal hygiene, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office has issued a warning to individuals planning to enjoy natural sites in and around the state.
"If you're headed to the lake, river, or down the road to celebrate the long weekend, make sure you pack a plan to get home safe,“ a release issued Thursday said.
“During the 2019 Memorial Day holiday period in Oklahoma, two people were killed in crashes, 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,” the release continued.
OHSO stressed the importance of being prepared and having the necessary supplies handy before taking a hike or visiting area bodies of water.
"We will have troopers on the roads, in the water, and in the air making sure people are being safe this holiday weekend," said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lieutenant Chris Arnall in the release. "We want to make sure everyone enjoys the time with friends and family, but we want them all to make it home safe."
The department also wanted to remind people that, “The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol want to remind everyone that law enforcement is still on duty and will be looking for impaired drivers this weekend.”
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol's marine enforcement division, Troop W, will have all available troopers out and working on area lakes this Memorial Day weekend.
“We urge everyone to consider safety on the water as well as on the roads," said Troop W Captain, Mike Sharp. "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 Captain Sharp.