Rules of the Road: Part Two

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A Driver’s Education teacher with more than 30 years of experience believes texting causes more accidents than anything else.

There should be a law against it, and there is, sort of. Not too long ago, newborns were brought home from the hospital on mom’s lap with a nary a seat belt in site. Like the times, the laws have changed, but in the age of the smartphone, maybe not fast enough.

People have a hard time separating themselves from their phone. From the bathroom to behind the wheel, no space is safe from digital distraction. When driving, that’s downright dangerous and in Mississippi. It’s a civil offense, but authorities can’t pull you over just for texting.

Sgt. Kervin Stewart with the Mississippi Highway Patrol explained, “If they are doing something such as manipulation of a mobile device or something like that, then I would watch their driving characteristics, and if they drive in a careless manner, then I would stop them and cite them for careless or reckless driving depending on what may happen in the course of that interaction.”

The burden of proof falls on the officer, unless you’re a school bus driver, but those things don’t even have seat belts. Neither does the back of a pickup, but in Mississippi, it’s still legal to ride in one.

Veteran Driver’s Ed. teacher Jeffrey Walker said, “It’s not a law that you can’t ride in the back of a truck, but not many parents let their kids do it anymore because they are trying to be safe, I guess.”

Just make sure your driver doesn’t speed through a work or school zone. Those tickets hurt.

Sgt. Stewart cautioned, “They are enhanced. The fine for a school zone or construction zone is usually a double fine plus normal court cost.”

Usually those areas are clearly marked, but what if you’re out in the country and haven’t seen a speed limit sign in miles? Take it from a very experienced teacher.

Walker said, “What I teach mine is, and a Highway Patrolman taught me this, that on an unposted road, outside of city limits, the speed limit is 45, inside the city limits, it’s 35.”

And if you’re in a neighborhood, it’s a good idea to keep it between 15 and 25. You’ll save yourself some money and you could save the lives of cyclists and pedestrians.

It’s all about getting where you’re going as safely as possible. Knowing the rules of the road make your odds that much better.

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