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#07-177 July 2, 2007

DNR, Highway Patrol keep roads, waterways safe

*** MEDIA ADVISORY*** DNR, Highway Patrol keep roads, waterways safe for July 4th - Joint news conference - DNR Law Enforcement Colonel Alvin Taylor; Highway Patrol Colonel Russell Roark - Monday, July 2 at 10 a.m. - Lake Murray Marine Patrol Station on Bundrick Island, 1401 Brady Porth Road, Lexington, SC. - CONTACT: Robert McCullough (803) 734-3836 or via cell (803) 309-5999; email McCulloughR@DNR.SC.gov

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division and the S.C. Highway Patrol are working jointly beginning the week of July 4 in an effort to keep state waterways and highways safe over the summer.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Highway Patrol have teamed up for joint aerial enforcement efforts in Aiken and Lexington counties. These began June 21 in advance of July 4 and will continue for the weekend of June 29-July 1 in those counties. Additionally, the two agencies will team up to focus on popular lake hot spots throughout the state, covering the lake itself and surrounding roadways through public safety checkpoints, saturation patrols and water patrols.

So far this year, six people have died in boating accidents in South Carolina, compared to a total of 14 boating fatalities in 2006. Some 507 motorists have died on state roadways as of late June this year compared to 475 by June 2006.

"We urge all boaters and water sports enthusiasts to be safety conscious, use lifesaving equipment, don't drink alcohol while operating a boat, obey the law and stay aware at all times of others in and around the water," said Col. Alvin Taylor, deputy director of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Law Enforcement Division. "Remember to wear your lifejacket while boating and enjoying water sports. Life jackets save lives." More than 90 percent of all boating fatalities could be prevented with the proper use of life jackets.

"Through our partnership, we are covering every base this July 4 when we know the incidence of drinking and driving and drinking while boating will be on the rise," said Highway Patrol Col. Russell Roark. "We want to send a strong message that we’ll be monitoring aggressive and intoxicated driving from the air, on the ground and on the water." The Highway Patrol also reminds motorists that our state has a primary safety belt law, which means that an officer can stop and cite someone for not buckling up or for passengers riding unrestrained.

State law requires boating safety training for anyone younger than 16 who wants to operate a boat or personal watercraft with an engine 15-horsepower or greater without being accompanied by an adult. For questions concerning this requirement or boater education courses contact, DNR’s Boating Education offices at 1-800-277-4301, (803) 734-3995 in Columbia or (843) 953-9302 in Charleston.

To report boating violations such as reckless operation or an intoxicated boat operator, call the DNR toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-922-5431. To report suspected intoxicated drivers, call *HP. For a copy of South Carolina’s Boating Regulations, to find out about local boating safety courses or to obtain a free float plan form contact the DNR Boating Safety Office at 1-800-277-4301; (843) 953-9302 in Charleston or (803) 734-3995 in Columbia.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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