Safety first: Mississippi leads in teen fatal car accidents

When it comes to getting in a car accident in the Magnolia state some consider it a when not if situation.

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s what many consider a rite of passage – learning how to drive and getting your license, preferably in that order, but getting behind the wheel in the Magnolia state may put some at risk more than others.

According to the Mississippi Department of Transportation, one out of three deaths among U.S. teens is the result of a motor vehicle crash, and a study released by the American Automobile Association found that Mississippi leads in teen fatal car accidents.

You crank up your car, shift it in gear, and then hit the road.

When it comes to getting in a car accident in the Magnolia state some consider it a when not if situation.

and on the highways, Mississippi leads in fatal car accidents involving teenagers.

Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop G Public Affairs Officer Derrick Beckom said a major cause of teen crashes is distracted driving.

“When I say distracted driving we tend to think about cellphones and electronic devices but distracted driving goes way beyond that. We are talking about eating or trying to groom yourself while you drive. If we could just get those teenagers to understand that they need to pay attention to the road the entire time they are driving and get their passengers not to be a distraction while driving then that would be a big help,” said Beckom.

When it comes to riding on four wheels, there are resources available to get your teen in gear.

Betty Harris, the owner and operator of Golden Triangle Driving Academy, is looking to bridge the gap for proper driving instruction and assistance in the community.

“What we do here is we teach and train individuals how to drive to age 15 to whatever because there is no cut-off age. We also offer defensive driving and senior citizen refresher courses, and one of our biggest courses is our permit preparation,” said Harris.

Harris said driving is a lifelong skill and knowing what to do can help keep you and others safe.

“Well you would be surprised at the number of people who have a license or permit and don’t know what the rules or regulations are…” Any driver course or instruction builds the foundation you need to be a safe driver so once you know all the rules and regulations and the laws and what’s expected of you as a defensive driver we need to be defensive drivers on the road. That means we need to look and be attentive at all times to our surroundings and what’s going on around us so we can be better drivers,” said Harris.

Since the COVID-19 Pandemic, there has been no physical driving test required to get your license.

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