Mississippi’s roads and highways experience distracted driving risks and accidents in significant numbers every year. In the United States as a whole, driving while distracted is the cause of thousands of auto accidents that have resulted in fatalities, injuries and even property damages.

These consequences are attributable to the fact that driving distractions, such was talking on the phone or sending and receiving text messages while operating motor vehicles, can reduce the ability of motorists to focus on the road.

More specifically, young drivers are prone to practices such as texting and driving, which is a very significant cause of distractions for motorists of all ages and skills levels while operating a vehicle. In order to address the increasingly high number of accidents related to these behaviors, MS has established certain laws on distracted driving.

To find out more about common distractions among motorists and which regulations the state of Mississippi has established to reduce these risks, read the following sections.

What is distracted driving in Mississippi?

Mississippi characterizes distracted driving as operating a car, truck or any other motor vehicle without being entirely focused on the driving activity. With the rise in the popularity of smartphones, the number of auto accidents caused by distracted behaviors has also increased. As such, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established the following classifications for common driving distractions among motorists:

  • Manual – Manual distractions entice you to remove your hands from the steering wheel in order to engage in some other activity. This category includes activities like eating, smoking a cigarette and performing assorted grooming tasks are all considered manual forms of distracted driving.
  • Cognitive – Cognitive driving distractions are those that draw attention away from driving, such as having conversations in the car or using a phone.
  • Visual – Visual distractions are defined as diverting your line of sight away from the road and onto something else, even if it is only momentary. This variety of distraction can include texting and driving, tuning the radio, CD or MP3 player or looking for items that fell inside your car.

Because texting incorporates all three of the categories established by the CDC, the consequences for texting while driving are often more harsh than other types of distracted behaviors. Furthermore, other common distracted driving activities include behaviors such as:

  • Playing very loud music
  • Tuning the radio or changing songs on an MP3 player
  • Reading
  • Talking on the phone
  • Sending, receiving or composing text messages, emails or instant messages
  • Eating or drinking of any kind
  • Engaging in conversations with passengers
  • Shaving, applying makeup or combing hair
  • Using a PDA, GPS or any other navigation device
  • Watching or recording videos

Distracted Driving Laws in Mississippi for Handheld Devices

Despite the fact that cell phone use while driving is deemed a dangerous behavior that poses risk to all motorists, the state of Mississippi currently has no law or restriction against motorists receiving or initiating phone calls while being behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

On the other hand, distracted driving laws in Mississippi do prohibit motorists from using handheld devices for other uses, such as exchanging messages, browsing the internet or navigating social media platforms. In any case, laws on distracted driving do not apply to cars and trucks stopped on the side of the road, or that are safely parked but kept the engine running while using a handheld device.

Mississippi Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers

Laws on distracted driving in Mississippi prohibit novice drivers with intermediate or temporary licenses, as well as learner’s permits, from sending, reading or composing text messages while operating a vehicle. Because this is considered a primary law, a law enforcement officer does not need a primary reason, such as an infraction for speeding, in order to pull over a driver. Furthermore, MS has established a Preemption Law, which means that local municipalities may not enact laws that promote distracted driving bans.

Texting and Driving Laws in Mississippi

Texting while driving is against the law in Mississippi for bus drivers and novice drivers, who are defined as those who hold a temporary permit, a temporary license or an intermediate license. As such, any motorists who are subject to the distracted driving law may not send, read or compose electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle. This is a primary law, meaning that law enforcement officers can pull you over for simply texting and driving.

Mississippi Distracted Drivers Regulations for CDL Holders

Distracted driving laws in Mississippi prohibit bus drivers and all other motorists with commercial driver’s licenses from using any handheld or hands-free electronic devices, including cell phones, while operating a motor vehicle. Be mindful that this is also a primary law in MS.

Distracted Driving Penalties in Mississippi

Distracted driving fines in Mississippi can vary according to a motorist’s driving record. For instance, a first-offense fine for driving distracted has an estimated cost of $500.

Ways to Prevent Distracting Driving in Mississippi

Different ways to stop texting and driving may be used to help reduce the chances of an accident that leads to property damage, bodily injury or even death. As such, the following are common strategies that can help reduce the odds of you facing distracted driving accidents:

  • Eating food or drinking while operating a motor vehicle is one way that you can distract yourself from driving. If you happen to spill your drink or food and find yourself trying to clean or pick it up, those are certainly significant driving distractions.
  • Driving in a fatigued state is also an unadvisable way to operate a motor vehicle. According to recent studies, tired motorists are four times more likely to be in an accident. Therefore, if you find yourself in this situation, it is better to pull off the road and get some rest.
  • Having too many people in the car with you can lead to distracted driving. As such, limiting the number of passengers in your vehicle is beneficial to your chances of avoiding an accident.
  • Talking on the phone, searching for a radio station or using your phone to send a text are all considered driving distractions that stem from multi-tasking while operating a vehicle.
  • Your cell phone use while driving should be reserved to urgent circumstances. If you must use your phone, make sure to safely pull over to the side of the road and come to a complete stop. As a general rule, avoid having social and/or casual conversations while you are driving.
Last updated on Wednesday, October 14 2020.