Spring brings varying temperatures and weather patterns that can be a challenge for drivers. The Missouri State Highway Patrol offers reminders for driving safely during spring.

Spring brings varying temperatures and weather patterns that can be a challenge for drivers. The Missouri State Highway Patrol offers these reminders for driving safely during spring:

Heavy rain can cause flooding, and spring showers will certainly spawn flash flooding. Never drive through fast-moving waters; even a small amount of fast-moving water can sweep a slow-moving vehicle off the roadway. If your vehicle becomes stuck in rising water, get out quickly and move to higher ground. Respect barriers or barricades put in place by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT); they are there to protect you. Going around a barrier placed by MoDOT is against the law.

Widely varying temperatures can leave roadways or bridge floors covered with frost. Even though roads appear to be clear, it is important to slow down and watch for slick areas, especially early in the morning. Temperature changes also cause fog to develop. Drivers need to slow down, turn on their headlights, and be prepared to stop in foggy conditions.

Weather conditions requiring the use of windshield wipers are usually those that affect visibility. Motorists are reminded that Missouri law requires them to turn on their vehicle’s headlights any time they are using the windshield wipers. It only takes a second to turn on your vehicle’s headlights. That same second could make you more visible to other drivers and prevent a traffic crash.

Drivers need to be aware of farming equipment in the spring. Tractors and other wide farm implements will be traveling down rural roads. Drivers are encouraged to be patient, slow down, and give these pieces of equipment room on the road. If you plan to pass a slow-moving farm implement, do so wisely. Never attempt to pass on hills or curves. Also, check for a “driveway” on the left before passing. A farm implement moving to the right may be preparing for a wide turn, rather than allowing you to pass.

Spring weather will draw more people outside as they take advantage of Missouri’s many recreation areas. Keep an eye out for changes in traffic patterns caused by the increase in activity. Expect more drivers on the road and watch for bicyclists, joggers and pedestrians to be more prevalent when the weather is warmer. Also, children are likely to walk or ride their bicycle to school. Stay alert.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol also reminds boaters that spring weather can bring challenges for boating on Missouri's many lakes and rivers. The Patrol offers these reminders for safe boating:

Remember: The water temperature hasn't warmed yet for the season. Thus, hypothermia is cause for concern. Life jacket use becomes even more important in cold water because hypothermia can quickly rob the body of the ability to perform the most basic tasks and drowning is always a concern. If you wind up taking an unexpected plunge into cold water, it is vital to get out of the water and into dry clothes as soon as possible. If dry clothes are not an option, leave the wet ones on. Even wet clothes will offer some insulation and trap body heat. A warm drink can be given to someone suffering from hypothermia as long as they are conscious. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided. Drinks with sugars for quick energy are preferable. Hypothermia can be deadly even if you are wearing a life jacket, so it is important to never go boating alone during cold water conditions. If no one knows you are in trouble, no one can help.

Flooding affects safety on Missouri's waterways. Boaters are asked to take extra precautions when boating in flooded areas. Many times, the best decision is to stay off the water. If boaters find it necessary to operate in flooded areas, operate at idle speed to avoid a wake that can damage flooded structures, docks and the shoreline. Fast moving water can easily capsize or flip a boat or personal watercraft, especially when combined with fixed objects such as trees and buildings. Boaters should avoid operating in swift flowing waters. High water conditions increase the likelihood of partially submerged navigational hazards in the water, so keep a proper lookout to identify such hazards.

Spring is an important time to go through the safety equipment required on your boat. Mechanical issues tend to occur more in the spring after boats and motors have been sitting dormant for much of the winter. Inspect your motorboat for fuel leaks and water leaks prior to that first trip out on the water. Ensure you have the appropriate life jackets and other necessary boating equipment. Going out on the water unprepared is taking an unnecessary risk.

Watercraft operators must consider the effect their actions have on others: Share the waterway and use common sense, good judgment and courtesy to ensure the safety of all. Life jackets save lives. Wear them. Follow the Patrol on Twitter for the most current news @MSHPTrooperGHQ