In a recent announcement that Mississippians can collectively give thanks about, the Mississippi Highway Patrol has said that it will launch a new campaign to target motorists who are found driving unsafely due to distraction.
A spokesperson for the department says that officers across the state will be actively looking for distracted drivers. This includes those who eat while driving, text while driving or generally are not paying attention to the road in front of them. Though much attention is paid to the dangers of texting while driving, the reality is that all manner of distractions are dangerous because they pull a driver’s attention off of the road. A loss of attention for even a few seconds can prove catastrophic as traffic patterns can change on a dime.
Mississippi Highway Patrol officers will be in unmarked cars on the state’s roads looking for drivers who appear to be preoccupied. The officers in the unmarked cars will then report the distracted drivers to a marked car that will be stationed further up the road. Officers say that any activity that can cause a motorists to drive in a careless or reckless manner is fair game and will be used a basis to initiate a traffic stop.
Though all distractions can prove deadly, the office says that the campaign was initiated to stop the trend of drivers using their smart phones behind the wheel. Too many accidents were occurring because one driver decided to text, surf the Internet, stream a music video or look for directions while driving. Though phones are equipped with multitudes of helpful features, they should only be accessed while a car is in park and no longer in a lane of traffic.
The issue of distracted driving is a serious one, something that both state and federal officials are determined to combat. The U.S. Department of Transportation has said that more than 3,000 people are killed due to distracted driving accidents every year, a number that they fear will continue to rise as smart phones and their many apps become even more pervasive.
One way that state officials have found to target distracted drivers is to charge them under Mississippi’s careless driving law. This law says that anyone who is not paying attention to the road can be charged with careless driving. The law carries a fine of between $5 and $50 and applies to all drivers. The law is broad enough that it can be used to prosecute those distracted by cellphones as well as those eating a hamburger behind the wheel. The hope is that the new campaign will serve as a deterrent to drivers who may consider hopping on their phones after getting behind the wheel, something that could end up saving lives in the long run.
If you have been injured in a Mississippi car, motorcycle or tractor-trailer accident and think you may have a personal injury claim, please contact the Mississippi personal injury attorneys at Kilpatrick & Philley at (601) 856-7800.
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