On July 1st, texting and driving became illegal in Mississippi. The new law will make texting and driving a civil violation with a fine of $25. And, in one year, the fine will increase to $100 per violation. Until recently, Mississippi had been one of six states that had no outright bans on texting and driving. While younger drivers were restricted from texting and driving, older drivers had no restrictions.
According to the Hattiesburg American, many Mississippi residents were shocked that Mississippi hadn’t made texting and driving a violation sooner. Some even had believed that texting and driving was already against the law.
For several years now legislators have been fighting to put a ban on texting and driving into effect.
Distracted driving kills over 3,000 people every year; countless more are injured. One of the most pernicious forms of distracted driving is texting while driving because it removes a driver’s attention from the road for a significant period of time.
For car accident victims, the new law is likely to be good news. Victims of distracted driving who seek compensation from negligent parties for their medical bills, pain and suffering, or lost wages, now have the law on their side. Their personal injury lawyers like Stevens & Ward can point to the illegality of texting while driving, and this will likely help strengthen cases where victims suffered injuries or death as a result of a driver’s choice to text and drive.
One of the critiques of the law is the difficulty of proving that a driver who has been accused of texting and driving wasn’t just checking the phone to see who was calling. Officers who issue citations will likely have to observe drivers for a few minutes to gather sufficient evidence. Officers say that the law might be difficult to enforce because it can be dangerous to drive right beside a driver who is suspected of texting and driving.
Even so, the hope is that the texting and driving ban will make drivers more aware and less likely to commit the crime.
But, do texting and driving bans really work? According to the American Economic Journal, researchers took a close look at texting and driving bans and tried to correlate the passage of state laws and accident data. Researchers found that texting and driving laws had a moderate positive effect on reducing the car accident rates in the states where the laws were passed. When laws were enforced as primary offenses, the laws had a good effect. However, when the laws were enforced as secondary offenses—for instance, the officer already had to find the driver in offense of another crime, then texting and driving laws had little to no effect on reducing the car accident rate. Mississippi has made texting and driving a primary offense, meaning that officers can stop drivers if they see a driver commit the offense.
According to the Picayune Item, many law enforcement officials support the law. One officer explained that he supported the law because he had to respond to three auto accident fatalities, all of which involved texting and driving. Proponents of the law claim that it strengthens current careless driving laws. If a driver is found swerving in a lane due to texting and driving, law enforcement officers have more options in issuing citations.
The new law won’t affect drivers who are looking at their phones to dial phone numbers or those who are answering their phones to take a call.
 
For victims of auto accident personal injury, the new law means that lawyers have more options when it comes to taking a case to court. Law enforcement will likely also be able to provide more data that can also be later used to protect these victims from having to shoulder medical bills or lost wages expenses on their own.
Victims of texting and driving and distracted driving may be entitled to receive compensation for their injuries. Victims should consider contacting a personal injury law firm such as www.stevensandward.com to determine whether they may be able to receive money to pay medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

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