More crashes occurred on state and federal highways in South Mississippi over the Labor Day weekend than any in other area of the state, traffic statistics show.
And rain was one of the contributing factors, said Mississippi Highway Patrol Capt. Johnny Poulos.
A total of 170 crashes statewide injured 57 people. Of those, 41 crashes in the six southernmost counties injured six people.
“We dealt with rain just about every day during the holiday period,” Poulos said. “While rain was a major factor, it wasn’t the only factor.”
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People with worn tires on their vehicles hydroplane. There’s windshield wiper-blade problems that reduce visibility, equipment issues and I think some people overdrive their headlights.
MHP Capt. Johnny Poulos
Not reducing speed in rain
Several factors tend to cause crashes in the rain or on wet roads, Poulos said.
“People just do not reduce their speed when they’re driving in rain,” he said. “People with worn tires on their vehicles hydroplane. There’s windshield wiper-blade problems that reduce visibility, equipment issues and I think some people overdrive their headlights.”
Overdriving your headlights means driving so fast at night that your safe stopping distance is not illuminated by your headlights.
South Mississippi typically has more crashes than any other region of the state because of Interstate 10 traffic and a high number of vehicles traveling in the region, Poulos said.
“In spite of the weather this weekend, the enforcement was still there,” he said. “We called in every available state trooper to work.”
MHP’s holiday traffic enforcement period ran from 6 p.m. Friday through midnight Monday.
Statewide, local statistics
Troopers statewide issued 8,442 citations, including 175 DUI arrests and 4,891 hazardous citations.
In Troop K, based in Biloxi, state troopers issued 804 citations, including 491 hazardous citations and 19 DUI arrests.
One person died in a single-vehicle crash in Noxubee County compared with four fatalities during the Labor Day weekend of 2015.
The fatal crash occurred about 6:42 a.m. Monday on Mississippi 14. A 2005 Nissan pickup driven by Jimmie L. Foot, 53, of Columbus left the road and struck a tree. His passenger, Tommie L. Harris, 50, also of Columbus, was ejected and died at the scene, Poulos said.
None of the South Mississippi crashes was alcohol-related, though four in other parts of the state were, reports show.
Troop K patrols Harrison, Hancock, Jackson, Pearl River, Stone and George counties.
They found fewer hazardous violations — 491— than in most MHP districts, statistics show. They also issued five seat-belt citations and three child-restraint violations.
Some highlights of MHP statistics:
▪ Most hazardous violations: 652, Meridian district.
▪ Most DUI arrests: 25, Pearl district.
▪ Most seat-belt violations: 333, New Albany district.
▪ Most child-restraint violations: 16, Greenwood district.
Responsible decisions by drivers, law enforcement efforts and public safety warnings from the media helped make the holiday weekend safer than the Labor Day weekend of 2015, Poulos said.
Police and deputies across South Mississippi also beefed up their patrols.
MHP traffic statistics from Labor Day weekend:
- Statewide: 8,442 citations (4,819 hazardous violations); 175 DUI arrests; 19 drug arrests; 8 felony arrests; 1 public drunk; 827 seat belt citations; 75 child restraint citations; 170 crashes that killed one person and injured 75.
- Troop K: 804 citations (491 hazardous violations); 19 DUI arrests; 5 seat belt citations; 3 child-restraint citations; 41 crashes that injured 6 people.