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New study: MS drivers unsafe on deficient roads

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MEC and TRIP officials discuss study on road infrastructure at Capitol
Maura Moed

Mississippi motorists are spending two-and-a-quarter billion dollars per year on extra vehicle operating costs from driving on roads that need repair. A new study also says the deficient roads are unsafe and could cost more if ignored. MPB's Maura Moed reports. 

A Washington nonprofit research group called TRIP did a study on the condition of Mississippi's transportation system. According to the report, between 2010 and 2014 more than 3,000 Mississippians died in traffic crashes. In a release, TRIP says inadequate roadway features contribute to these deaths. 

Rocky Moretti, TRIP's Director of Policy and Research says drivers' money and safety are compromised if nothing is done.

"As the report points out, it's costing the public over 2 billion dollars a year. Far more people are being killed here in Mississippi on the state's road and highways than is acceptable. The number should be zero, not over 600," says Moretti.  

The Mississippi Economic Council recently did their own study which found the state needs $375 million annually to address immediate transportation needs. One suggestion to legislators includes increasing the state’s fuel tax, which is currently at 18.4 cents per gallon. 

Scott Waller who is with the MEC, says it's just not enough to sustain and improve the road system. He says preventing maintenance is four times less costly then making major repairs. 

"That right there is the perfect example of why we have to make this investment. It is that - an investment.  It's an investment that save taxpayers money in the long run. It may cost a little bit now, but it's going to be a whole lot less expansive in the future," Waller says. 

Waller says he hopes the reports create enough incentive for lawmakers to improve the state's transportation infrastructure.