Distracted driving is one of the most under-reported causes of car accidents—making it a hidden hazard that threatens the lives of motorists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. To help drivers in our state better understand their rights and duties on the road, we’ve put together a quick guide to Mississippi distracted driving laws.
If you were involved in an auto collision caused by driver negligence, contact the car accident attorneys of Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC with questions. Our legal team has an in-depth understanding of state laws all drivers must follow. If the motorist who caused your injuries violated a Mississippi distracted driving law, we can help you take legal action.
Mississippi Distracted Driving Facts
Distracted driving is a dangerous habit. There is never a safe time to engage in distracted driving. A distraction is any activity that takes your hands, eyes, and attention off the task of safe driving.
How many of the following facts did you already know about Mississippi distracted driving?
- 75% of adult drivers in Mississippi admit to talking on a cell phone while driving.
- Over 45% of adult drivers in MS say they have read, written, or sent a text message while driving—the highest percentage of any state in the nation.
- Almost 80% of all crashes involve driver distraction during the last 3 seconds before the crash.
- Drivers using hand-held phones are more than four times more likely to get in a serious crash.
- Over 58% of teen driver crashes and over 20% of teen driving fatalities involve cell phone use while driving.
- Distracted driving is responsible for over 3,000 deaths every year in the United States.
Across the nation, distracted driving claims the lives of innocent people every day. Remember, a collision caused by a distraction like a text message or social media is 100% preventable.
Mississippi Texting and Driving Laws
Because texting behind the wheel is one of the most common and dangerous forms of distracted driving, many states have instituted texting and driving laws.
- Drivers may not write, send, or read text messages, emails, or other electronic messages on a hand-held mobile device while operating a vehicle.
- Motorists are prohibited from accessing, reading, or posting on any social media site while operating a vehicle.
If a motorist is found to be in violation of one of these laws while the vehicle is in motion, the driver may face a fine of up to $100. Texting ticket fines may be even higher if the perpetrator is a minor, a bus driver, or driving with a learner’s permit.
The only exceptions to the Mississippi texting ban are when:
- The driver is using a hands-free or voice-operated mobile device
- The driver needs to check emergency alerts, such as traffic and weather updates
- The driver needs to read messages for navigation purposes
Reading or sending one text message typically takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. Before you send a text message behind the wheel, think about the impact those five seconds could have on your or someone else’s life.
Can You Talk on the Phone While Driving in Mississippi?
While Mississippi, like most states, follows a texting ban, drivers in our state are not prohibited from talking on the phone. For most drivers, there are no restrictions on accepting or making phone calls while operating a vehicle.
There are two exceptions to Mississippi’s cell phone use laws:
- Bus drivers transporting at least one minor are not allowed to use mobile electronic devices for texting, accessing social media, or making phone calls.
- Drivers operating a motor vehicle under a learner’s permit are similarly restricted from any mobile phone usage.
Common Causes of Distracted Driving in Mississippi
Distracted driving is generally categorized into three types:
- Manual distraction takes your hand off the wheel.
- Visual distraction takes your eyes off the road.
- Cognitive distraction takes your focus off the task of driving safely.
Any activity that involves the driver in one or more of these impairments can be considered distracted driving.
From our experience handling Mississippi distracted driving accident cases, we know these to be some of the most common distractions that cause serious crashes:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Video-calling or livestreaming
- Using social media
- Watching videos or looking at pictures
- Talking to others in the vehicle
- Adjusting music, the radio, or a podcast
- Paying too much attention to GPS or navigation, especially on unfamiliar roads
- Eating or drinking
- Personal grooming
- Unrestrained pets in the vehicle
- Daydreaming, lack of focus, looking out the window, or driving fatigued
Mississippi State Department of Health Distraction-Free Driving Tips
The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) offers the following tips to help Mississippi drivers stay safe on our roads and highways. Following these tips and the Mississippi distracted driving laws mandatory for all drivers is the best way to make sure you avoid dangerous behind-the-wheel behaviors.
- Always leave the road and park in a safe area to answer a call or send a text message.
- Get into the habit of turning your phone off every time you get in the driver’s seat.
- Put your phone in the trunk of your car if it is too much of a temptation.
- Record a voicemail message notifying callers that you are driving, and that it is not safe to answer your phone at the present moment.
- Schedule your work commutes and other drives to leave yourself enough time to answer calls and respond to messages at the beginning and end of your journey.
- Ask a passenger to handle phone use for you if you need to pick up a call, search for directions, or complete another time-sensitive task.
The Legal Rights of Those Injured by Distracted Drivers
Every time a driver engages in a distracting activity, they make a choice to put the lives of others in danger.
Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC protects the rights of individuals and families who have been injured by motorist negligence. Drivers who break Mississippi distracted driving laws need to be held accountable for the destruction their actions cause. If you or a loved one was hurt by a distracted driver in Mississippi, contact us to learn how we can help you seek recovery.