Mississippi Children and Teens at High Risk of Vehicle Fatality

Mississippi Children and Teens at High Risk of Vehicle FatalityMississippi youth aged 19 and younger died at the highest rate in the country between 2014 and 2018 from automobile crashes. Out of every 100,000 children and teens, 10.6 died via a vehicular accident. This is nearly nine times greater than the rate of death for the same period for youth living in the District of Columbia (D.C.). What are the reasons for such a stark contrast? There are many. From lifestyle, population density, driving age, and infrastructure, there are a variety of contributing factors that make Mississippi more dangerous for children and teens on the roads.

Why is population density linked to crash death risk?

When comparing the crash statistics between states like Mississippi and the District of Columbia, the first glaring factor to look at is population density. Mississippi is a spacious home for many, according to Statista, with only 63.23 residents per square mile in the state. Contrast that with D.C., where there are 11,685.51 residents for that same area. It may seem counter-intuitive, but areas with higher population density actually see less of the population on the roads, and in turn, less youth operating vehicles.

Moreover, estimates show that less than 40 percent of D.C. workers commute to work by car, as opposed to 94 percent of commuters in Mississippi. Density and other demographics can help determine how much of the given population is on the roads, the average age of drivers, the distance they are traveling, and the speeds at which they are traveling. All of these factors are valuable to consider when considering why certain areas of the country experience higher crash statistics for young people.

How driving lifestyles in rural areas contribute

Urbanization levels often divide states when it comes to automobile-related deaths. As mentioned, urban areas like D.C. may have thousands more people living in a given area, but there are also numerous other ways to commute or get around the city. Rural Mississippi does not provide the extensive train networks, a Metro, or integrated bus systems that many more densely populated areas do. When public transportation options are scarce, drivers must operate their own vehicles every time they need to get places as simple as school, work, and the grocery store.

Other factors that put youth at risk in rural areas are lack of seat belt compliance, higher speed limits in remote areas, and younger age requirements to acquire a driver’s license. These key elements are known to increase the risk of death in crashes, as well as potential for catastrophic injuries and other serious personal injuries. While many states have increased seat belt laws and upped campaigns to encourage young drivers to comply, seat belt use remains less common in rural areas.

Teens are doing the driving

Of the children and teens who are killed in vehicular accidents, around 84 percent are behind the wheel themselves or are the passenger of another driver. Pedestrian and cycling fatalities are classified as well, accounting for 14 percent of the deaths combined. However, the vast majority of fatalities are linked to young people operating or riding inside a vehicle.

Sending younger teens to frequent the roadways may be unavoidable for some families. Whether their child needs to work to help save for school, or school itself is too far that they have to drive themselves, young people in Mississippi may find it difficult to cut back road time. Instead, it is valuable to focus on the most preventable risks like proper seat belt use, following speed limits, refusing to text and drive, and stopping the acceptance of inebriated driving amongst friends.

Safe driving courses and practices are also valuable at forewarning and teaching teens about the dangers of driving. The good news: between 2004 and 2018, the number of children and teens killed in car accidents dropped 54 percent. With conscious efforts, hopefully this number can drop even further.

What does this mean for families in Mississippi?

Recognizing that Mississippi currently has a higher risk for youth on the roads is the starting point for protecting children and teens. If you are a parent or caregiver who has teen drivers, it is important to be vigilant in cautioning them of the dangers of the road. Remember to warn them of the devastating impacts of unsafe driving. Be sure that they have had the proper training and drive time with a supervisor before operating on their own. Urge them to wear their seat belts at all times and keep their phones put away. As safety laws continue to increase to protect young drivers, the greatest prevention starts with individuals and their families.

What to do if your child has suffered a crash

If your child or teen sustained injuries from a vehicle crash, you may feel at a loss for what to do. However, you need valuable legal counsel to help fight for your child’s rights. In a time of uncertainty, anger, and pain, do not neglect to seek out experienced legal advice from a team of lawyers who will passionately advocate for justice. At Merkel & Cocke, PA, our lawyers work tirelessly to bring justice to each case by consulting with experts to get the most accurate understanding of the cause and resulting injuries stemming from a serious crash.

We understand how devastating it can be to see your child suffer serious injuries from an automobile accident. After seeking the necessary medical attention and recovery care, do not hesitate to call a seasoned law firm with a reputation for providing excellent legal services to victims and their families. The attorneys of Merkel & Cocke, PA are committed to seeking justice for car crash victims of every age throughout Mississippi. Our offices are located in Jackson, Clarksdale, Greenville and Oxford. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at 662-627-9641  or complete our contact form.