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Increasing traffic fatalities linked to lack of safety laws

Even with all of the high-tech safety features that are standard on many new cars, U.S. traffic fatalities are surging. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 28,000 people were killed in vehicle crashes during the first nine months of last year. That was an 8 percent rise over 2015, which saw the largest fatality increase in half a century.

However, the rise in fatalities isn't uniform throughout the country. A new study by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety links the number of state driving safety laws with the number of fatal crashes. The head of the group notes a "resistance in state legislatures" to pass laws even as basic as requiring seat belts to be worn and child safety seats to be used.

The lack of laws against texting behind the wheel was also highlighted. The report says that all states should have a law prohibiting texting and driving for people of all ages. That's just one of 15 "optimal laws" that the group says should be enacted nationwide.

Mississippi wasn't at the bottom of the list, but it still fell into the category of "Worst States." Our state has just six of the 15 recommended driving safety laws in place. There is no booster seat law. Drivers can't be cited for backseat passengers not having seat belts on unless they're stopped for another violation. We have just one of the recommended teen driving provisions, and there is no law prohibiting open containers of alcohol in a vehicle.

By letting our state legislators know that we want stricter laws, Mississippi residents can help minimize our chances of getting into a crash. However, if you're involved in a crash for which another driver was at fault, whether that driver was breaking the law or not, you may still be able to pursue legal action to recover compensation for your injuries and damages.

Source: CBS News, "Are poor driving safety laws responsible for surge in traffic deaths?," Jan. 31, 2017

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