Mississippi apparently has a perfect storm brewing with respect to auto insurance rates. The state has long led the country in vehicle repair costs, has recently seen an increase in not only the total number of car accidents, but also in the number of drunk driving crashes, and has seen reduced law enforcement presence on state and local roadways. These issues have combined to result in what many believe will be a whopping insurance increase for Mississippi drivers.
According to the state Insurance Commissioner, insurance carriers in Mississippi are expected to ask for rate increases of between 10 and 20 percent over the next several months. Others have said that initial increases may be lower, but the trajectory is the same. Insurers operating in Mississippi have seen mounting costs associated with auto insurance and, as a result, it won’t be long until the insurers attempt to pass along those costs to drivers.
One of the biggest factors in the increasing insurance rates is that vehicle repairs costs have ballooned, up more than 16% in recent years. Beyond that, the frequency of car wrecks on Mississippi roads and highways has also taken a big jump. The Mississippi Highway Patrol says that there have been a 10 percent increase in crashes since the beginning of this year when compared with numbers from 2015.
Many of these wrecks are related to distracted driving, which occurs with alarming frequency. The majority of drivers now admit to sending and receiving text messages while driving, something that diverts precious attention off the road in front of you. Mississippi has especially lax laws when it comes to discouraging texting and other forms of distracted driving.
Another issue is the low seatbelt usage rate. Problems like distracted driving are exacerbated when too few people wear proper safety restraints, increasing the likelihood of serious injury and death. Another problem is drunk driving, which accounts for a third of all fatal car accidents in Mississippi. Despite public efforts to combat the rise in drunk driving, alcohol-fueled accidents continue to occur.
The final piece of the puzzle in terms of Mississippi’s impending insurance rate increases is the lack of manpower patrolling the state’s roadways. The law currently allows for Mississippi Highway Patrol to have up to 650 troopers, yet there are only 475 on the payroll today. Last year, 48 people graduated from trooper school, but 86 other troopers either retired or resigned, leaving the department at a net deficit. That means that 475 people are left to patrol more than 800 miles of interstate and 10,000 miles of state and U.S. highways, breaking down to one trooper for every 54 miles of roadway.
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.