What You Need to Know About Car Accidents in Mississippi

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.

Delta Bluffs Scenic Byway Mississippi
Interstate 55 North South Mississippi
Factors that Contribute to a Car Accident

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that over 90 percent of car accidents are caused by driver errors. Common causes of car accidents in Mississippi include:

Drunk Driving

Drunk Driving

Everyone knows that driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is not only dangerous but also illegal. Despite the known dangers, nearly 30 percent of Mississippi traffic fatalities can be attributed to drunk driving.

Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is primarily due to cellphone use and texting behind the wheel. However, drivers can also become distracted by various factors such as passengers, GPS navigation, eating, drinking, and daydreaming.



Speeding is risky as it reduces the time available for drivers to respond to changing traffic situations. Speeding significantly increases the likelihood of severe and even fatal accidents from high-impact collisions. Pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to these risks.

Poor Road Conditions

Poor Road Conditions

Poor road conditions often contribute to car accidents. Mississippi ranks 6th in terms of pavement roughness in urban areas. If a car accident is caused by poorly maintained roads, injury victims can pursue a claim against the government agency responsible for road and highway maintenance.

Not Obeying Mississippi’s Traffic Laws

Not Obeying Mississippi’s Traffic Laws

While DUI, texting while driving, and speeding violate Mississippi traffic laws, drivers who run red lights and stop signs, tailgate, make improper turns, or fail to yield can also cause car accidents.

Mississippi Accidents: Which Season Has the Most Accidents?

The IIHS has identified summer as the most dangerous time for road travel in terms of traffic fatalities. Contrary to popular belief, statistics indicate that winter conditions are less hazardous when compared to the moderate conditions of summer due to:

Higher volume of drivers – During the summer months, the number of drivers on the road significantly increases, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Additionally, vacationers may be unfamiliar with the area, leading to unpredictable driving behavior.
Tire blowouts – Summer experiences a higher occurrence of tire blowouts due to the expansion of air inside tires caused by hot weather.
Teenage drivers – Summer break results in more teenage drivers on the road. Because of their inexperience, teens are more likely to be involved in traffic accidents than other age groups.
Construction zones – Extensive road maintenance and construction activities are common during the summer.
Motorcycles and bicycles – Favorable weather conditions in summer lead to an increase in motorcycles and bicycles on the road, which can be more difficult to see than other vehicles.

In addition to dangers during the summertime, holiday driving is also risky:

Memorial Day Weekend
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that Memorial Day, along with the other summer holidays, have the highest average fatality rates per day. In 2023, the NSC estimated that 469 people could die on the roads in the U.S. on Memorial Day.

Fourth of July
People across the country often take road trips to celebrate Independence Day, increasing the risk of traffic fatalities depending on the day of the week on which the holiday falls. In 2023, for example, the NSC projected around 619 fatalities due to traffic accidents during the Independence Day weekend.

St. Patrick’s Day
March is one of the safest months, except for St. Patrick’s Day. In 2020, during the period from 6 p.m. on March 16th to 5:59 a.m. on March 18th, drunk drivers were responsible for 36 percent of crash fatalities, according to the NHTSA.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, people typically travel to visit their families, often resulting in congested traffic and more drunk drivers on the road. For example, the NSC projected 507 fatalities on the road during the 2023 Thanksgiving holiday. Data indicates that in 2021, around 36 percent of traffic fatalities during this period involve drivers impaired by alcohol.

Christmas to New Year’s
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a time for celebration for many, but it’s also a hazardous time to drive. From driving in winter weather to stressed-out shoppers driving aggressively, there are many potential dangers on the road. In 2023, the NSC predicted approximately 345 fatal traffic accidents could occur during the Christmas Day holiday period and another 375 during the 2023-24 New Year’s Day holiday period.

Dangerous Highways and Intersections in Mississippi

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. 

Be Careful: 7 Common Traffic Laws Drivers Ignore

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.

Hernando Clocktower, Mississippi

4. Following Too Closely
Avoid illegal tailgating by driving a “reasonable and prudent” distance behind the vehicle. Under the best driving conditions, 3 seconds is the rule of thumb. However, a longer time cushion is prudent when traveling in adverse weather conditions, at higher speeds, on slippery or uneven road surfaces, or in high-traffic areas.

5. Hands-free Cell Phone Use
Drivers in Mississippi are prohibited from sending or reading text messages or using social media on a handheld mobile device. Drivers can only use a cell phone in hands-free mode while driving.

6. Four-Way Intersections
When drivers reach an intersection simultaneously, the left-most driver must yield the right-of-way. The vehicle to the right can proceed through the stop sign first.

7. And Finally, Yielding to the Right of Way in Left Turns
Under Mississippi law, drivers must yield to oncoming traffic when turning left. Drivers must wait until the intersection is clear if turning would create a hazard. Once a driver has adequately yielded the right-of-way and signaled to turn, they can proceed. Then, other drivers must yield until the vehicle has safely completed the turn.

Interstate 55 North, Missisippi
What Should I Do If I’m Involved in an Accident?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Notify law enforcement. Request the presence of a law enforcement officer at the accident scene as soon as possible.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Gather vehicle information. Get the license plate numbers of all vehicles involved in the accident by taking photos with your cell phone camera.
  7. 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).
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

How Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman Can Help You

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.

Hernando Courthhouse, Mississippi
Contact Our Southaven & Hernando Car Accident Lawyer

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.