MS campaign will not tolerate distracted driving

Published: Nov. 3, 2013 at 9:39 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 4, 2013 at 10:54 AM CST
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Putting on makeup, texting and eating are all activities that should not be done behind the wheel. That's why Mississippi Highway Patrol is beefing up its efforts to get cell phones out of drivers' hands and keep other distractions away from drivers.

It's called "Pay Attention or Pay a Fine." It's an initiative that stemmed in Oxford earlier this week. Now, it's branching out on the Coast.

"Well, distracted driving is a huge problem for us and it's creating deadly situations on our roadways in Mississippi," said Mississippi Highway Patrol Spokesman Lt. Johnny Poulos.

Lt. Poulos said these deadly situations are intolerable on Mississippi roadways, especially when they're preventable.

"The problem is, any type of distraction that would divert your attention away from the roadway causes accidents and unfortunately, sometimes loss of life," said Lt. Poulos.

These are distractions that Martha LeTard know all too well.

"It scares me a lot," said Gulfport resident and mother of four, Martha LeTard. "I count the people who are actually using their phones as they're making a turn onto another road and it's interesting. It's probably 1 in 5."

Now, with two young daughters beginning to drive; the dangers of the road have made her set strict rules.

"I just remind them do not use your phone, do not have a lot of people in your car and don't be distracted by putting on makeup, changing the radio stations," said LeTard.

While she hopes her daughters listen, she worries about the other motorists whose attention is quickly diverted.

Lieutenant Poulos says it's something that happens far too often.

Now, with this new campaign, he hopes to put end to some of those distractions.

"Bottom line, we're not fast enough to try to text, drive, any type of distraction inside the vehicle and then to maintain control of the vehicle. It's just not possible," said Poulos.

Lieutenant Poulos said officers are going to be patrolling in unmarked cars a lot more frequently with this new campaign.

"We're not going to pull them over if we see them eating while they're driving," said Lt. Poulos. "That is not against the law. What is against the law is if you're doing anything inside the vehicle that would divert your attention from the roadway and cause you to drive carelessly."

Efforts like these make LeTard a little more at ease with her young girls on the road.

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