Everything You Need to Know About Mississippi Distracted Driving Laws
Distracted driving is a major concern across the nation, and Mississippi is no exception. Over 3,000 people were killed due to distracted driving in 2020, and unfortunately, those numbers continue to spike.
Though many states have implemented distracted driving laws to curb the number of accidents, distracted driving remains one of the most common causes of motor vehicle collisions. And this, in large part, is due to the use of cell phones and texting while driving.
Mississippi does have a specific law that targets the use of a cell phone while driving. Unfortunately, not everyone takes this law seriously, especially younger drivers. And the consequences of a distracted driving accident can be severe, resulting in serious damages and injuries.
If you are involved in a distracted driving accident, let our team of experienced Mississippi car accident lawyers assist you. We understand how devastating the aftermath of a distracted driving accident can be and are dedicated to offering compassionate service and ensuring our clients get the settlement they deserve.
Mississippi Distracted Driving Law
In Mississippi alone, over 600 deaths occur each year on average as a result of car accidents, many of which are caused by distracted driving. This is why it is crucial for drivers to fully understand and respect the law where distracted driving is concerned to help mitigate the risk of these accidents in the future.
According to most states, distracted driving is considered any activity that takes a person’s focus off of the road and driving. This, of course, is still somewhat of a broad definition, which is why Mississippi further breaks it down into three main types of distractions while driving.
Three Types of Distracted Driving
The distinct types of distracted driving include:
- Manual distractions: Any act that causes a driver to take their hands off of the wheel.
- Visual distractions: Any act that causes a driver to take their eyes off of the road.
- Cognitive distractions: Any act that causes a driver to take their mind off of the task of driving.
Beyond listing the three types of distractions, Mississippi distracted driving law also specifically refers to the use of cell phones. While you can make or receive a call while driving in Mississippi, you cannot use a cell phone or other portable device to:
- Write, read, or send a text message or an email
- Access, read, or post on social media
There are, however, exceptions to this law. You can use a cell phone or other device for:
- Hands-free voice operation
- Accessing emergency, traffic, or weather alerts
- Messaging related to the operation of the vehicle
Examples of Distracted Driving
Below are just a few of the many kinds of distractions that could result in an accident:
- Handling a cell phone to make or receive a call
- Sending or reading an email or text message
- Messing with a GPS device or GPS app on a phone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking with and looking at passengers
- Looking or reaching into the backseat to deal with children or pets
- Messing with the radio
- Personal grooming in the mirror
- Reaching for something in the car
- Daydreaming or zoning out
Distracted Driving Enforcement
When it comes to distracted driving, there are generally two types of enforcement for someone who breaks the law:
Primary Enforcement. This type of enforcement means that a police officer can pull you over if they see you violating the distracted driving law.
Secondary Enforcement. This type of enforcement means that a police officer can only cite you for distracted driving if you were first breaking another law that caused them to pull you over.
Mississippi follows primary enforcement regarding distracted driving. So if an officer sees that you are committing an act of distraction, such as texting while driving, they can pull you over and cite you without any other cause.
Mississippi Distracted Driving Fines
The fines and penalties for distracted driving in Mississippi can vary depending on the exact circumstances and who was committing the offense.
- $100 fine for adult drivers
- Up to a $500 fine for minors and drivers with a learners permit
- Up to $500 for bus drivers
- Up to $1,000 if injuries result from the distracted driving
Texting and driving can also lead to a reckless driving conviction or vehicular manslaughter charges if the distracted driving results in the death of another person.
Distracted Driving Facts
Below are some of the most recent distracted driving statistics:
- On average, nine people are killed every day in the U.S. due to distracted driving.
- 1 in 5 people who are killed in distracted driving accidents are pedestrians or bicyclists.
- Texting while driving is 23 times more likely to result in an accident than driving while not distracted.
- Drivers who text and drive are unaware of up to 50% of their driving environment and surroundings.
- Sending or reading a text message while traveling at 55 MPH is like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
- Teen drivers ages 15 to 20 are more likely to drive distracted than those 21 and older.
- 39% of high school students admit to texting or emailing while driving.
- Multitasking while driving increases your chances of causing an accident.
Tips to Stay Distraction-Free While Driving
With so much evidence pointing to the dangers of distracted driving, it is clear that drivers must take more precautions, remain alert, and keep their hands on the wheel to avoid causing a severe accident. Distracted driving accidents often end in fatalities, so it is crucial to obey Mississippi distracted driving laws to avoid putting lives unnecessarily at risk.
The Mississippi Department of Health offers these tips to help keep drivers safe:
- Develop a habit of turning your phone off when you get in the car or put it in the trunk or somewhere out of reach to avoid temptation.
- Record a voicemail greeting or automatic text reply that lets others know you are driving and will return their call or message as soon as possible.
- Avoid using cell phones at all costs, even hands-free operations. If an emergency call or message is necessary, pull over to a safe area first.
- If available, have a passenger use the phone for you.
- If you need to use your phone while on the road, have someone else drive.
Connect with an Experienced Mississippi Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a distracted driver, we can help bring you peace of mind and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation with an experienced Mississippi distracted driving accident attorney, contact Lunsford, Baskin, and Priebe, PLLC. After-hours visits are available.