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Car Accidents / 5.22.2024

Why Is Mississippi the Deadliest State to Drive In?

Learn More About How to Stay Safe on Mississippi Roads

Mississippi is known for its rich history, beautiful landscapes, tasty cuisine, and Southern hospitality. Unfortunately, it also holds a less flattering distinction - the highest rate of fatal car accidents per capita in the entire country. With a death rate of 22.2 per 100,000 people, Mississippi drivers face a significantly higher risk of being involved in a deadly crash compared to the rest of the country.

This alarming statistic begs the question: Why are car accidents so prevalent in Mississippi? While there's likely a confluence of factors, two key contributors stand out: distracted driving and a low seat belt usage rate.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving encompasses any activity that diverts your attention away from the primary task of driving. This can include talking or texting on your phone, scrolling social media, eating or drinking, adjusting the radio, or even having conversations with passengers. Studies have consistently shown that distracted driving significantly increases the risk of an accident.

Here in Mississippi, a troubling trend emerges. Drivers in the state admit to spending a staggering 8% of their driving time on their phones. This translates to taking your eyes off the road for several seconds at a time, even at highway speeds. During these crucial moments, a car can travel a significant distance, and even a minor distraction can have disastrous consequences.

Consequences of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving isn't just a minor inconvenience; it's a dangerous gamble with potentially life-altering consequences. Here is a sobering look at the potential outcomes of taking your eyes off the road.

Increased Risk of Accidents

Studies consistently show a significant correlation between distracted driving and car crashes.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that distracted driving was a factor in nearly 3,142 deaths in 2019 alone. Taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds can mean missing a critical traffic signal, pedestrian, or another vehicle, leading to a devastating collision.

Legal Ramifications of Distracted Driving

While the human cost of distracted driving is undoubtedly the most significant consequence, there are also legal repercussions to consider:

  • Traffic Citations: Mississippi has texting-while-driving laws in place. Getting caught texting or using a handheld electronic device while driving can result in a fine of $100 for the first offense and $250 for subsequent offenses. Points will also be added to your driver's license, potentially leading to increased insurance premiums.
  • Increased Insurance Rates: Insurance companies view distracted drivers as high-risk individuals. Being caught for distracted driving can lead to a significant increase in your auto insurance premiums. These higher rates can put a strain on your budget for years to come.
  • Civil Liability for Accidents: If you cause an accident while distracted, you can be held legally liable for the damages of the other driver(s) involved. This includes medical bills, lost wages, car repairs, and even pain and suffering. In severe cases, the financial consequences of this liability can be devastating.
  • Criminal Charges: In cases where distracted driving results in serious injury or death, criminal charges may be pursued. These charges can range from reckless driving to vehicular homicide, depending on the specifics of the accident. A conviction for a criminal offense can carry significant penalties, including jail time, fines, and a suspended driver's license.

It is important to remember that even if you are not caught in the moment, the evidence can still come to light after an accident. Witness statements, phone records, redlight cameras, and even dashcam footage can be used to establish that you were not paying attention to the road.

The Life-Saving Power of Seat Belts

Seat belts are the single most effective way to prevent death and serious injury in a car accident. They work by restraining you in your seat during a collision, minimizing the impact forces on your body. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data shows that seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury for front-seat passengers by 45% and the risk of serious injury by 60%.

Unfortunately, Mississippi also falls short when it comes to seat belt usage. The state consistently ranks among the lowest in the nation, with a usage rate hovering just under 78%. This means that nearly one out of every four drivers in Mississippi chooses to forgo this crucial safety measure.

The Cost of Inattention and Neglect

The human cost of these risky behaviors is undeniable. Lives are lost, families are shattered, and countless individuals suffer life-altering injuries each year due to preventable car accidents. Beyond the human cost, there's also a significant financial burden. Medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs can leave victims and their families struggling for years to come.

Tips for a Safer Driving Experience

Don’t want to be another statistic? While not all accidents can be avoided, the leading reasons for car accident fatalities in Mississippi are simple enough to stay away from. 

There are clear steps you can take to improve your safety and reduce your risk of being involved in a car accident:

  • Put the phone down
  • Always buckle up
  • Focus on the road
  • Obey traffic laws

What to Do if You Are Injured

If you are unfortunately involved in a car accident caused by a distracted or unbuckled driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer at Richard Schwartz & Associates can help you navigate the legal process and fight for the justice you deserve.

Richard Schwartz & Associates: Your Trusted Mississippi Injury Law Firm

Taking precautions against distracted driving and always using your seat belt are the best ways to stay safe on Mississippi roads. However, accidents can still happen. If you are injured due to someone else's negligence, Richard Schwartz & Associates is here to fight for you.

At Richard Schwartz & Associates, we understand the devastating impact of car accidents. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of those injured by the negligence of others. If you have been hurt in a car accident in Mississippi, contact us today for a free consultation.

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