Mississippi's Roads Deadliest in the Country

According to the National Research Council more people are killed or injured in car accidents here than in any other state. Mississippi averages around 800 traffic related deaths each year and about 35 thousand injuries.

Gretta Scarbrough's husband built an embankment after an out of control driver ended up in her yard not too far from her home on Highway 67 . Over the years she's seen ten people killed coming out of this curve that many drivers take too fast.

"They're not paying attention to the curve," said Scarbrough. "When it rains or just a little bit of mist of rain it's slick, and people don't realize that. They don't watch coming around the curve and when they do nine times out of ten we've got to pick them up out of the curve."

Some people say while the Mississippi roads may be a factor in the high number of traffic deaths and injuries, the primary blame is with people who aren't paying attention to road signs or their speedometers.

Harrison County resident Jason Woods said "There's less traffic flow and stuff so individuals might go a little bit faster than they should on back highways."

In 1999, twenty-two people died on the rural roads of Harrison County. The most in the state. But the numbers are going down. So far this year, the Sheriff's department says four people have died on rural road. Deputies credit stricter enforcement, but say they could do more if they had the right tools.

Deputy Lou Bissonnette said "If we were able to use radar like the municipalities do and the Highway Patrol that would drastically. You'd see big drastic differences in the numbers of fatalities. It would allow us to enforce the law even more."

A survey by the National Highway Safety Administration last year found only about 50 percent of Mississippians used safety belts... that's down from 58 percent in 1998.

by Danielle Thomas