lawmakers returned to the capital city this past week and among items drawing
consideration are efforts related to highway safety.
The House unanimously approved a bill that would provide funding for a
training class of Highway Patrol officers. The effort – HB211 – now heads to
the Senate for further consideration.
Sponsored by Rep. Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, the bill would
appropriate $3 million to equip and train at least 50 new troopers.
The number of uniformed patrol officers in the state has declined in
recent years with troopers serving in
and many others nearing
retirement. In addition, there has been only one graduating class of new
troopers in the past four years.
A pair of bills would mandate a practice that is second nature to most
truckers and other motorists.
The legislation would allow police to ticket drivers who fail to flip
on their headlights during bad weather.
Sponsored by Sen. Sidney Albritton,
R-Picayune, and Rep. Rita Martinson, R-Madison, the bills would require lights
to be on “whenever precipitation necessitates the use of windshield wipers.”
Under HB357 and SB2331, violators would face a $25 fine.
Another effort would clearly forbid drivers from watching television,
movies or other video displays while behind the wheel.
Sponsored by Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, the bill – HB325 – would
prohibit drivers from watching any device capable of displaying live or
recorded television, cable or satellite broadcasts, DVDs or video games that is
located within the driver’s view if it’s located in front of the back of the
driver’s seat or is visible to the driver – regardless of whether the device
interferes with safe driving.
The restriction wouldn’t apply to dashboard readouts or other displays
of information about a vehicle’s operation, conduct or navigation.
Rep. Margaret Rogers, D-New Albany, has offered a bill that is intended
to add a barrier of safety for drivers in the state.
The measure – HB114 – would require the installation of metal guard
rails along and approaching bridge abutments.
Rep. Erik Fleming, D-Jackson, has introduced a bill – HB16 – that would
require people 85 or older to renew their driver’s or operator’s licenses every
Another measure could result in drivers seeing advertisements along
roadways in the state.
Sponsored by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, D-Brookhaven, SB2173 would permit
the Mississippi Transportation Commission to conduct a study on the feasibility
of selling advertisements to be painted on the pavement of highways maintained
by the transportation department. The commission would report the results of
such a study to the Legislature by the end of the year.
The trooper bill is in the Senate Appropriations Committee. The other
bills are in their respective transportation panels.
Keith Goble, state legislative editor