MO visitors appreciate extra eyes on road safety

Memorial day ride-along
Updated: May. 25, 2018 at 8:23 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Most of the millions of Americans traveling for Memorial Day weekend are driving to their destination, but those driving through Missouri won't be alone.

Troopers with the State Highway Patrol will be watching the roads both on the ground and in the sky, and out-of-towners like Kelli Nagel and Luke Levulis appreciate the extra effort.

The couple from Colorado is spending a week at Lake Kinkaid, and say the saw plenty of activity on Missouri roads during their 15-hour drive on Thursday.

"We did see quite a few accidents especially between Kansas City and Columbia," Nagel said "Traffic through there especially Kansas City was pretty rough. We've been trying to watch our speed."

"I drove most of the leg Thursday night and I saw more of the enforcement," Levulis chimed in. "I saw a number of cars pulled over on I-55 from St. Louis to the Cape-Jackson area. I think it's expected and I hope people are being more safe because of that."

Sgt. Mike Lynch says patrol cars are stationed every 20 miles on numerous busy highways.

The operation is part of the statewide Crash Awareness Reduction Effort, or CARE.

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Lynch says the name fits because having more staff spread helps them respond quickly to any kind of incident that occurs which goes beyond just writing tickets or responding to crashes.

"Their car could break down, they'll have engine problems or have flat tires, have some sort of car issues or medical issues," Lynch said. "They pull over on the side of the road out on in the interstate with no hospitals around and we have officers to help people out."

Lynch says their visibility often encourages drivers to slow down, but in some areas other troopers are waiting out-of sight and communicate with an airplane that is actively searching for reckless driving.

"People will drive in excessive speeds, pass people in the shoulder, cut people off, follow them way to close, where they would not do that if there was a patrol car around," Lynch said. "So the airplane above can see those violations they can follow them until the officer can get behind them and safely pull them over."

The couple from Colorado says they've been extra cautious because of the holiday weekend and encourages other drivers to take breaks, switch off if someone gets tired, and not drink until they've reached their destination.

"We'll be ready to get out of the car and spend time in the nice warm weather, do some tubing out on the lake and some fishing and have a really good time," Nagel said.

Troopers will also have extra boats on the Current River and at Lake Wappapello to also help keep the waters safe as well.

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