MHP urges motorists to pay attention

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mississippi Highway Patrol officials say motorist attention whendriving on state interstates and highways can help preventaccidents like one that occurred early Monday.

An 18-wheeler bearing a load of Corona beer overturned near milemarker 24 on Interstate 55 around 4 a.m. Monday, spilling its loadin the ditch on the side of the road, and impeding traffic in atleast one lane for much of the day. There were no injuries,authorities said.

MHP Public Affairs Officer Rusty Boyd said while that stretch ofI-55 is not particularly dangerous, drivers should take measures tokeep their minds on the road, especially early in the morning.

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“On the interstate people get tunnel vision and they get in thatzone where they’re really not paying attention,” Boyd said.

Boyd said compared to some parts of I-55 in Louisiana, LincolnCounty’s stretch of interstate is as safe as it can be, consideringit is the only road in the county where motorists can drive 70miles per hour. The danger comes when people, especially onextensive drives, are lulled into a daze by the long trip, Boydsaid.

“They’re basically just driving in a daze,” he said. “Usually on55, they’re driving for great distances, and they’re not payingattention.”

Boyd said accident reconstruction reports generally show wreckson I-55 are mostly prone to occur when dazed motorists are suddenlyjolted into alertness.

“One of the biggest problems is that they’ll run off on to theshoulder of the road a little and get startled, then they’llovercorrect and lose control,” he said. “Then they’ll run off theother side of the road and hit the trees or the ditch or whatever’sthere.”

Boyd said, however, that of the three fatal automobile accidentsthat MHP has worked this year in Lincoln County, two of them havebeen on I-55 – both involving multiple casualties. But again, hestressed that the interstate is not particularly more dangerousthan other areas of road, but that sometimes motorists are simplynot paying attention.

“You just have to be aware of your surroundings when you’redriving anywhere, but especially on long trips,” Boyd said.