The Mississippi Department of Transportation (hereinafter MDOT) has several startling statistics listed on its webpage, www.mdot.ms.gov, that should concern every citizen of Mississippi that drives, or has a loved one that drives. Because we have offices in Biloxi, Gulfport, Hattiesburg and Pascagoula, we are very passionate about decreasing Mississippi accident rates.
The following Mississippi accident statistics deserve our immediate attention.
According to MDOT, 2 out of 3 people killed in an auto accident are not wearing seat belts. Of the 170 teenagers killed between 2010 and 2012, 107 were not wearing seat belts.
In 2012, 31% of all traffic fatalities were caused by drunk driving.
It was estimated that in 2012 3,328 people were killed in “distracted-related” auto accidents particularly from talking and/or texting on the phone.
Drivers who use a hand-held device while driving are 4 times more likely to get into a serious crash.
Finally, 1 out of every 3 deaths among US teens resulted from a motor vehicle accident. There are many more statistics available, but the above stand out, and frankly, are unacceptable.
What can be done to lower these numbers?
As a citizen of Mississippi and a personal injury attorney for Morris Bart, I truly believe that the best way to lower the above accident statistics is primarily through accountability.
What do I mean by accountability?
You must be accountable for yourself and your minor children every time you get behind the wheel of an automobile. You must realize that if you fail to operate your vehicle safely, and in accordance with the laws of Mississippi, you may be, and rightfully should be, held accountable for any injury caused by unsafe conduct.
If you are injured by someone else’s failure to operate their vehicle safely, you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney, like Morris Bart, to hold that negligent driver accountable for your injuries.
Having to account for one’s actions is the best way to change a careless driver’s conduct. And last, but certainly not least, you should willingly serve on a jury when summoned. If you have the privilege of serving on a jury, your verdict should send a message that if a driver fails to follow the law and drive safe, they will be held accountable for all the injuries caused by such negligent conduct; the juries in Mississippi should make it clear that unsafe driving will not be tolerated. Only then will the above statistics be reduced. Considering some of the above statistics may help demonstrate how accountability will lower those unacceptable accident statistics.
Always wear a seat belt.
The simple act of putting on a seat belt saves lives. To be accountable for yourself and minor children, you must buckle up. If preventing injury or death is not enough to motivate you to buckle up, you should also consider the financial implications. Not only can you be fined for not wearing your seat belt, proof that you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of an accident can have significant financial impact in a personal injury claim.
For instance, if you were injured in an accident because of someone’s failure to drive safe, you should hold them accountable by hiring an attorney. However, if you were not wearing a seat belt, that information may be used to shift the blame for your injuries and related medical bills on your failure to wear a seat belt.
Of course when a jury considers that information, they can reduce the amount you should be compensated for you bills and damages!
Educate teen drivers.
Every time we allow our teenage children to drive, they are at risk of injuring themselves or others. As citizens of Mississippi, we must demand that our children wear seat belts, put down the cell phone while driving and not drink and drive.
It is important to note, that if you are aware that an 18, 19 or 20 year old child has a history of negligent conduct, you could actually be held personally accountable for the injury caused by your child.
If you negligently allow your child to use your vehicle when you are aware of past conduct, an action for “Negligent Entrustment” may be filed against you. Attorneys, like Morris Bart, that regularly work auto accident claims, have significant experience in pursuing a negligent entrustment claim.
Prevent drunk driving.
It is common sense that drinking and driving places yourself and others at risk for serious injury and death. The above statistics indicate that people continue to make the irresponsible decision to drive a car impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Mississippi would bring the deaths related to drunk driving to zero if all conscientious citizens simply refuse to drink and drive. Unfortunately, the only way to motivate the individuals that drink and drive to change their conduct is by making them pay for the injuries they cause.
More important, those lucky enough to serve on a jury should send a message to Mississippi citizens that driving impaired will not he tolerated by awarding an injured party compensatory and punitive damages.
Never practice distracted driving. Never text and drive.
The only way to be personally accountable for safe driving is to make the responsible decision to turn off your phone while driving. Those individuals driving on our streets and highways while talking on the phone or texting should be brought to task when that conduct injures someone. If you are involved in an auto accident and suspect that it was due to the other driver being distracted, you should immediately hire an experienced attorney.
At Morris Bart, we know how to move quickly to preserve, obtain, evaluate and use cell records to show that the driver’s distraction caused the accident. Again, when a jury is convinced that a driver’s use of a cell phone caused injury or death, their award should be in such an amount to deter any future conduct.
Accountability is the only true way to reduce the negative driving statistics in Mississippi.
In a perfect world, everyone would take personal responsibility to drive safely and follow the law. If that were to happen, the above statistics would be zero. However, the more people are held accountable for the failure to drive safe, the more those individuals will act responsibly. An aggressive attorney will pursue negligent drivers and force them to accept responsibility for their conduct.
Ultimately, it is the job of Mississippi citizens, serving on a jury, to ensure negligent drivers are held accountable by fully compensating an injured party.