A break down in communication just may be a contributing factor to dangers on state roadways. Now, state safety leaders are looking to change that.
It's a place where diversity and a push for safety are going hand in hand. A state diversity safety summit with a mission.
Luther Perry with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration says, "What we need to try to do is get the information where it needs to be gotten to."
Officers and representatives from towns and cities across the state are finding out just what works in bridging the flow of information to those groups which are over represented in death and injury statistics when it comes to Mississippi roadways.
Perry says, "When you look at the diverse communities, one of the things we suffer from is the lack of knowledge."
Col. Donnell Berry, chief of the Mississippi Highway Patrol says, "We're all in this business together, the local agents, the P.D.'s and to S.O.'s and I think it's very important for everybody to come together at the same table."
According to Mississippi Safety Services, the Magnolia state has had the highest traffic death rate in the nation for the last twelve years. While disturbing, representatives with the Department of Public Safety say this type of summit is yielding results. Since 2006, the state has seen a drop in the number of highway deaths from around 1,000 to 645 last year.
Berry says, "A lot of people say this won't happen to me but if you are to look at some of the pictures that our guys work out on the roadways, where people were driving impaired or texting or talking on the cell phone, it would change their mind to see how dangerous this is."
From the threat of distracted and impaired drivers to seat belts and personal safety, a driver's best defense is always themselves.
State leaders say hard numbers and facts can only do so much. The hope is for law enforcement agencies to bring back educational programs and implement in their local communities.
Combining education with enforcement is what safety leaders say makes the difference.
Perry says, "You can write all the tickets that you want to, but unless you convince people to change behavior and to understand why it's important that you change behavior, therein lies the inequities that go on and continue."
And with them, so will these summits to help stop or at least put the brakes on highways dangers.
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