Wednesday’s fatal accident is shining a spotlight on interstate safety. The officers who patrol those roads are putting a plan in place ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.
Mississippi Highway Patrol is enforcing a “Drive to Survive” safety initiative, and MHP is urging the public to take greater responsibility to combat distracted driving habits.
Gulfport resident Vera Blackmon said her 20-year old daughter is in college and loves to use the phone and text while driving.
“I tell her to stop texting while driving, because it’s dangerous, and anything can happen in two seconds. She needs to be alert for traffic,” Blackmon noted.
For her daughter’s safety, Blackmon constantly reminds her to keep her eyes on the road.
“It can wait until she gets off the highway.”
“Currently, in MHP Troop K, we have 26 fatalities already for the year. Our district leads the state, and we need to get ahold of it. Law enforcement can’t do it alone. We need the public to make good decisions,” said Capt. Johnny Poulos, with MHP.
Poulos says ahead of the holiday weekend, an increased MHP presence with troopers and checkpoints will be visible along the roadways.
“It makes people slow down. It makes me feel safer on the road when I see cops out there,” said Biloxi resident David Depoe.
“We have a busy holiday weekend coming up. According to a AAA estimate, they predict a record setting weekend for traffic. It’s a manpower issue. We don’t have enough troopers on the highway. We’re depending on the public to make good decisions,” said Poulos.
He also said due to the uptick in distracted driving in recent years, MHP is changing the way they describe collisions.
“Accident was always the term used, but an accident is when something was not meant to happen, A crash is what we’re encountering, someone not paying attention,” said Poulos.
MHP says extra patrols for Memorial Day weekend will begin Friday at 6 p.m. and end Monday at midnight.