Car accidents are common in Mississippi, and some intersections are treacherous, like the I55 (which runs through Memphis and Hernando) and Highway 302/Goodman. Mississippi also has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in traffic fatalities.
According to the most recent data compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 687 fatal crashes in the state in 2020, resulting in 752 deaths. That translates to a fatality rate of 25.4 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to the national 11.7 deaths per 100,000 people.
Mississippi also leads the nation in summer teenage driver deaths. A recent study by the AAA found that 40 percent of fatal teen crashes in the state in 2020 occurred between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the 100 Deadliest Days for teen drivers.
Most car crashes occur on highways and intersections. The NHTSA estimates 43 percent of vehicle crashes occur at intersections, and most involve left turns. Some of the most dangerous areas in Mississippi include:
- I-55 is one of the most traveled and dangerous roadways, with about 0.61 fatalities per mile on I-55.
- MS-302/Goodman Road is inherently dangerous because it runs through rural areas and intersects six major highways.
- Interstate 269 is an auxiliary interstate highway for I-69 that connects Tennessee with Mississippi – speeding drivers are often the reason for car accidents.
- US-51 crosses small towns, big cities, and rural areas with high traffic volume, increasing the risk of traffic accidents.
- U.S. Highway 51/Goodman Road is a four-way intersection in Horn Lake with lanes traveling in all different directions. Crashes are often attributed to drivers not yielding the right-of-way.
- Airways Boulevard/Goodman Road is a busy intersection in Southaven where rear-end accidents are frequently caused by speeding or distracted drivers.
Rural Roads Are Especially Dangerous
Mississippi is one of the most rural states in the country and has a vast network of rural roads. Rural roads are disproportionately deadly for several reasons, including lack of safety resources, simpler roadway infrastructure, poor emergency medical services, and risky driver behaviors, such as not wearing a seat belt, impaired driving, speeding, and distracted driving.
All drivers in Mississippi have a duty to drive safely and avoid causing injuries to others. Nonetheless, drivers frequently violate the following traffic laws:
1. The “Move Over” Rule
The state’s “move over” law, enacted in 2007, is designed to protect law enforcement officers by requiring drivers to move at least one lane away when approaching emergency vehicles parked on the roadside with lights flashing.
2. The Minimum Speed Limit
The minimum speed limit on any federal highway in Mississippi is 30 mph, where no hazard exists. This increases to 40 mph when the speed limit is 70 mph.
3. Passing on the Left
Drivers must pass slower traffic on the left side and not cut off the driver. Drivers who need to cross into lanes of traffic headed in the opposite direction can only start passing when the lane is clear. Also, drivers cannot interfere with or come within 100 feet of an oncoming vehicle before returning to the original lane. If another driver is passing you, you must stay to the right. You cannot increase your speed until the other vehicle overtakes you completely.
Keep a copy of this checklist in your glove compartment. If you are in a traffic accident, take the following steps to protect yourself and your rights:
- Assess your physical condition. If you are injured and able to do so, call 911. Only leave your vehicle if you are physically capable or in immediate danger.
- Check on others. After assessing your physical condition and needs, attend to your passengers and the occupants of other vehicles involved in the accident. If someone is injured, call 911 and offer comfort until medical help arrives.
- Notify law enforcement. Request the presence of a law enforcement officer at the accident scene as soon as possible.
- Don’t admit fault. Don’t discuss the accident with anyone or accept blame. When law enforcement arrives, provide a factual account of what you observed, heard, and did. This is not an admission of fault.
- Exchange driver information. Share driver’s license and proof of insurance details with all drivers involved in the accident. You can obtain this information by taking pictures of your driver’s license and insurance card using your cell phone camera.
- Gather vehicle information. Get the license plate numbers of all vehicles involved in the accident by taking photos with your cell phone camera.
- Obtain passenger and witness information. Collect the names, addresses, and driver’s license numbers of all passengers and witnesses. It’s also helpful to gather their contact information (e.g. telephone or cell phone numbers, or email addresses).
- Document the accident scene. If it can be done safely, take pictures of the accident scene, including damaged vehicles, any injured individuals, and their injuries. This photographic evidence may be crucial in determining the cause of the accident.
- Don’t speak to the insurance company. Both the other driver’s insurance company and your insurer will initiate an investigation following the accident. One of their initial steps may be to request your statement. Don’t talk to the insurance company or claims adjuster until you consult an attorney.
Ultimately, the best way to protect your rights and interests is to work with our Mississippi car accident lawyers.
There are plenty of car accident lawyers, but you need an attorney who will take the time to listen to your concerns and tailor a strategy to the specific facts of your accident. That’s where we step in. You can depend on our legal team to handle all the details of your claim, including:
- Visiting and photographing the accident site
- Obtaining and reviewing the police report
- Obtaining surveillance video from traffic cameras and other sources
- Identifying and interviewing witnesses
- Communicating with the insurance companies and their attorneys
- Negotiating a fair and just settlement
Although car accident claims often settle outside of court, we will take your case to trial if necessary to achieve the best possible outcome. Above all, we will fight for compensation such as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages related to your injuries.
At Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman, we take pride in providing our clients and the communities we serve with the highest standards of professional excellence. Once you become our client, you will be confident with our team handling your car accident case. Call us today so we can start working on your claim.