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Does Mississippi Have the Deadliest Roads in America?

Mac Gordon

Donuts on Cake

How many more national surveys and ratings can Mississippi take that show us to be outright rapscallions, rogues, scamps and scoundrels?

Not to mention wretches, meanies, caitiffs, devils and knaves?

All of those words depict us – Mississippians, either by birth or choice – as somewhat a bad breed, at least as we traverse our roads, byways and highways on a daily basis.

This latest bit of distressing news that Mississippi has the nation’s deadliest roads across America from sea to shining sea (and, thus, the deadliest drivers because most cars don’t drive themselves) has arrived courtesy of Zinda Law Group, a Miami personal injury firm.

Zinda’s information came to their lawyers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which according to its website is “an independent, nonprofit scientific and education organization dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property damage from motor vehicle crashes through research and evaluation and through education of consumers, policymakers and safety professionals.”

The Virginia-based IIHS group was founded in 1959 by three major insurance associations representing 80-percent of the U.S. auto insurance market.

Their examination refers, as stated, to Mississippi having the highest rate of fatal car crashes in the nation – 26.2 deaths per each 100,000 persons in a state in 2021, the last survey year.

This is not to be taken lightly by any Mississippian, as it is life and death stuff, just as important and devastating to the state’s image as numerous other disturbing statistical measures that we lead.

There’s myriad interesting data in the report. It signals the crossing of Airways Boulevard and Goodman Road in DeSoto County the “state’s most dangerous intersection.”

I have family near there and, yes, drivers are out of control throughout that area. People have fled Memphis by the thousands over the past 20 years and moved across the state line to the municipalities of Olive Branch, Southaven, Horn Lake and Hernando, and to unincorporated Lewisburg, Mineral Wells, Nesbit, Pleasant Hill and Lake Cormorant.

Someone should do a survey of “American communities with the most subdivisions built this century and more subdivisions under construction.” DeSoto County easily garners that sobriquet.

What has most impressed me is that DeSoto County and municipal leadership there build new schools, shopping venues and highways as needed. They don’t wait on the state or federal governments for permission or the money. They just do it.

The phenomenal growth in DeSoto has brought on heavy roadway congestion and thousands upon thousands of new jobs (economic developers elsewhere, go there to see how it is done).

Motorists re-spond by driving fast and dangerously and the county and cities can’t possibly keep a watch on all the traffic. However, law there writes an exorbitant number of speeding tickets.

Outside Missis-sippi’s northern end, the survey points to U.S. Highway 61 and Interstate 20 as our most dangerous highways. Highway 61’s designation is surprising. One can often drive north from Vicksburg to Leland, say, and encounter only a couple of dozen vehicles headed the opposite way. Yes, I-20 is a speedway.

I’d have thought Louisiana would win this contest in a landslide. No group of drivers anywhere perform more dangerously than our Pelican State neighbors. Disbelievers should experience Interstate 10 traffic in Louisiana for a week and report back. The survey rates South Carolina and Arkansas as trailing Mississippi in the “deadliest roads” review. Rhode Island has the country’s safest roads.

The Insurance Institute said the culprit for Mississippi’s poor marks is our low rate of seat-belt usage. The national use rate is 91.6-percent. Only 77.9-percent of Mississippi drivers will click it.
We can do better.

---Mac Gordon is a native of McComb. He is a retired newspaperman.

Donuts on Cake
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