Highway deaths have increased nationally, and road safety experts are urging Mississippians to be vigilant and avoid distractions on the state’s roadways.
A new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals a sharp increase in the number of highway-related fatalities between 2020 and 2021. Colonel Randy Ginn with the Mississippi Highway Patrol says this trend has also been identified on roadways across the state. He says two of the most dangerous hazards on roads involve distracted driving and speeding.
“We started doing some directed patrols, a little more visibility and presence in places where we’re having a lot of our accidents,” says Colonel Ginn. “We’re having a lot of complaints about fast and reckless driving, also we’re going with our public affairs officers to schools to talk to students about distracted driving.”
Colonel Ginn says the number of people being ticketed for driving more than 100 miles per hour has risen 88% in recent years.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation is also encouraging drivers to be more aware of their surroundings while on roadways. Public Information Officer Katey Hornsby says many fatalities could be prevented by avoiding distracted driving.
“It really comes down to the driver making important decisions behind the wheel to help prevent those crashes. Of course, there are some things that can be unavoidable, but a lot of them come from the driver and their habits behind the wheel,” says Hornsby.
If drivers identify roadway hazards, experts say those should be reported to the Department of Transportation or local officials that oversee road maintenance.