Unfortunately, the answer to the above question is yes. Mississippi does indeed have the distinction of being the deadliest state in which you can drive. So said a 2018 report from Mississippi Today, which revealed that in 2017, 685 people died on Mississippi’s roads, giving this state a fatality rate of 22.9 deaths per 100,000 residents, by far the highest in the nation. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mississippi has led the nation in highway deaths since 1999 in all but three of those years.
To put Mississippi’s horrendous highway fatality record into perspective, of the 14,786 people who died in Mississippi car crashes between 1999 and 2016, over 50% of them —7,708 to be exact — would have remained alive had this state matched the national highway fatality rate. Had the deceased people lived in Massachusetts instead of Mississippi, 14,139 would have remained alive.
Mississippi’s traffic problems
As a Mississippi resident, you face two main categories of driving problems. One category includes our outdated laws and the fact that our state lacks sufficient numbers of law enforcement officers to enforce even them. The other category includes the fact that we are a rural state and the vast majority of our roads are rural ones.
Outdated law problems in Mississippi include the following:
- You need not put your infant or toddler in a rear-facing car seat.
- You need not put your child in a booster seat once (s)he reaches the age of seven.
- Your teenager can get a learner’s permit at age 15.
- Between age 15 and age 18, your teenager faces no restrictions regarding nighttime driving or the number of required supervised driving experiences.
As a Mississippi resident, you live in the nation’s fourth most rural state. Rural roads have higher speed limits and generally, are less well maintained than city streets. It should come as no surprise to you that 98% of our driving fatalities occur on rural roads.
This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.