As part of its long-term Vision Zero goals, the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) has launched a new website with resources for drivers to take action and play their part in helping reduce the number of fatal crashes in the state.
Over the past three years, there has been a 14% increase in traffic fatalities statewide, with 690 people killed on Mississippi roads in 2016. To combat this fatal trend, MDOT has launched the new DriveSmartMS website, which includes videos that teach drivers how to navigate work zones and intersections, and other roadway safety tips, as well as initiatives to discourage dangerous practices. The site highlights statistics that show:
• Speed was a factor in 12% of traffic fatalities in 2016;
• Distraction was cited in over half of all fatal crashes involving teens;
• Alcohol was a factor in nearly 20% of fatal crashes;
• In the past three years, 20 people were killed in work zone crashes on Mississippi highways;
• Half of the people killed in crashes last year were not wearing their seat belt.
While all MDOT projects aim to improve safety for road users, certain roadway or intersection improvements are specifically designed to help reduce crashes and lessen the severity of crashes when they occur. Recent initiatives highlighted on the site include:
• Deployment of median cable barriers along divided roadways to prevent vehicles from crossing the central reservation and into oncoming traffic. Cable barriers absorb collision forces and reduce the impact on vehicle occupants, lowering fatalities and injuries;
• Shoulder rumble strips that warn drivers when they have drifted from their lane. In one study, crash frequency dropped 36% on rural two-lane roads and 17% on rural highways when rumble strips were present;
• Roundabouts (traffic circles) that reduce fatal collisions by 90% and limit the chances of high-speed impacts, as the continuous, one-way flow of traffic has fewer points of conflict than traditional intersections.
Other roadway improvements, such as J-turns, diverging diamond interchanges and continuous flow intersections, may be unfamiliar to some motorists, so the new site provides resources for drivers to learn how to use these safety features.
“We have a goal of zero traffic deaths on Mississippi highways,” said Melinda McGrath, MDOT’s executive director. “DriveSmartMS is a resource for the traveling public aimed at increasing awareness and safety. Whether it’s our workers or the traveling public, safety is MDOT’s number one priority. Drivers play a vital role in improving safety and moving Mississippi toward zero deaths on highways. This free resource will help Mississippians drive smarter and more prepared.”