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Mississippi 1 of 9 states without texting-while-driving ban

Mississippi legislators are again considering a law that would ban texting while driving. Such a bill has failed to pass numerous times in recent years, and it is unclear whether or not lawmakers will make any changes this time around.

National statistics show that about 25 percent of auto accidents involve people who are driving and talking on their cell phones, while an additional 3 percent of crashes are attributed specifically to texting. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver distraction is a factor in 16 percent of fatal accidents.

Because of such statistics, and because of the thousands of deaths caused by distracted driving each year, 41 states have already banned texting while driving. Some lawmakers in Mississippi, however, take issue with such a ban, claiming it would infringe upon individual rights.

A state senator from Hattiesburg has introduced distracted-driving legislation for the past five years, but so far Mississippi only prohibits bus drivers and minors with beginner licenses from driving and texting at the same time.

The same lawmaker offered support of an across-the-board ban by way of comparison: "We have speed limit laws. We have DUI laws. We paint yellow stripes on the roads. We are concerned about people being killed by drunks, but there's as many being killed by distracted drivers."

While it remains to be seen what the state legislature will decide, distracted-driving victims or their families may have recourse to justice in civil court. Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are ways of holding distracted or otherwise negligent drivers accountable.

Source: hattiesburgamerica.com, "Texting while driving targeted," Geoff Pender, Aug. 18, 2013

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