Albert Lang with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says, thousands of Mississippians are dying due to accident-related injuries, with car crashes as the major cause of death. He says about 21 out of 100,000 Mississippians died on roadways in the state between 2011 and 2013. He explained while there are more teens drivers involved in deadly wrecks nationally, the ages are across the board in Mississippi.
"Mississippi has one of the higher speed limits. We've seen speed limits weakened over the last 30 years. So, our studies basically say that when speed limits go up by five miles per hour, there are more deaths. It's kinda the duel thing between speed limits and then not a lot of restrictions on younger driving." said Lang.
According to AAA, Mississippi teens can get a learner's permit at age 15 and a license at 16 1/2, they aren't required to drive supervised for a specified about of time, there are no restrictions on the number of people they have in a vehicle and teens drive later at night. Lang says, distracted driving is another cause of fatal wrecks which involves all ages. State Senator Willie Simmons says a new law banning texting while driving takes effect July 1.
"It only takes a second or so taking your eyes off of what you're doing and putting it into texting and you're all over the place. We do feel like it's going to be a good measure for bringing more safety to our highways." said Simmons.
Albert Lang believes the law may not be as effective as hoped.
"Some distracted driving law, texting laws just force some people to do it even more discreetly which we see even more accidents." said Lang.
Drivers receive one warning, then $25 fines are imposed. The fine increases to $100 July 1, 2016.