As boating season nears, the Missouri State Highway Patrol is taking new steps to encourage wake courtesy on the Lake of the Ozarks, developing a new video to try to raise awareness of the issue though it is not always a matter of law.

In a press release issued Thursday afternoon, Colonel Sandra K. Karsten, MSHP superintendent, invited the public to view the new "Be Aware Of Your Wake" video. You may view the video at www.lakenewsonline.com or go to the MSHP website.

Members of the Highway Patrol and Kalkomey Enterprises Inc. developed the five-minute video, which focuses on the importance of being aware of and courteous with your boat wake. 

The video explains plowing as a transitional speed between idle and being on plane. Plowing creates  large wakes which can create navigational problems for other boats as well as damaging docks and excessively eroding the shoreline. With the large number of vessels on Lake of the Ozarks during the boating season, plowing can be especially problematic creating a potentially dangerous environment due to rough water.

“The combination of boaters being aware of the wake they are creating, and boat operators using caution if they encounter large wakes will help reduce the number of injuries we see on our larger waterways,” said Colonel Karsten. "When large boat wakes cannot be avoided, boaters should slow down and approach the wakes at a 45-degree angle to navigate those wakes safely. Alerting passengers to potential rough water is important as well. Doing so allows passengers to brace themselves properly which helps prevent injury." 

The Lake of the Ozarks has gained notoriety for being not just one of the most popular lakes in the country but also for being a dangerous waterway.

While Lake of the Ozarks has similar fatality rates to other bodies of water, its high number of non-fatal crashes are what set it apart. Being non-fatal does not mean serious injuries were not incurred though.

According to MSHP statistics, Lake of the Ozarks saw 88 boating accidents in 2016. Just three of those were fatal. Forty-five were injury accidents and 40 only property damage accidents.

The next closest number of total crashes for a Missouri waterway occurred in on Table Rock Lake which had 29 in 2016 with four of those being fatal. Twenty-one were injury accidents and four property damage.

Those numbers — a much higher number of total accidents compared to other state waterways but relatively few fatalities — have remained fairly stable over the last few years. 

Boating accidents on Lake of the Ozarks cannot all be blamed on wakes and rough water, but officials believe more courteous behavior on the water overall could go a long way towards alleviating accidents.

Lack of knowledge among boat operators is also a factor, not just in creating a wake but how to handle a large wake. 

MSHP Troop F has long offered boating classes, and operators born after January 1, 1984 are required to be certified through a NASBLA-approved boating education course. Private classes and lessons are also becoming more widely available around the Lake of the Ozarks region. The Lake of the Ozarks Captains’ Association is one new organization, formed last year, that has been offering information on common boating practices and navigation tips online as well as connecting people with classes.