Accident reports have tripled due to heavy rainfall

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 13, 2016

Motorists in Pearl River County need to be cautious of their surroundings and avoid standing water if all possible.

Motorists in Pearl River County need to be cautious of their surroundings and avoid standing water if all possible.

This week, flash floods and heavy rain have been abundant in Pearl River County, which has contributed to an increase in vehicle accidents. Picayune Police Department Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri said the number of accidents on the roads has almost tripled since the beginning of this week’s heavy rainfall.

Tuesday was the first day of this continuous trend of heavy rainfall, which Magri said caused nine wrecks within a couple of hours that afternoon. Seventeen accidents occurred after Tuesday in the Picayune area, Magri said.

“People need to focus when driving. No one should let any distractions get their attention while driving, even on a good day. During times like this, we all need to be extremely careful,” Magri said.

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He suggests people stay off the roads, unless absolutely necessary, during heavy rainfall. He asks people to stay home if they do not need to be on the roads. However, if residents do need to drive somewhere, Magri suggests driving slowly.

“During these times when the roads are wet, please drive slow. Avoid all holding water if possible and always keep your head on a swivel,” Magri said.

Chase Elkins, Mississippi Highway Patrol Public Affairs Officer for Troop K agrees that people should slow down during wet conditions to avoid putting themselves and others in danger.

“The first thing people need to do is make sure their car is prepared to handle wet conditions. Make sure the tires have a good amount of air in them, they have good traction and make sure the windshield wipers work properly,” Elkins said. “These are some of the things that not a lot of people check before driving in terrible weather conditions and it could cause you to wreck.”

Elkins said that tires are not visibly low until they are short by around 15 psi, which is considerably low and dangerous. Tires low on air can cause hydroplaning and braking problems while driving in bad conditions.

Also, if visibility is limited due to the weather, motorists should find a safe spot to pull over and wait until they can see what is in front of them on the road. Magri said that pulling over on the side of the road is not the safest place.

“If you are near a business, pull into their parking lot, away from the road to avoid someone running into you. If you were having trouble driving because of visibility, then the next person driving down the road will most likely have the same problem,” Magri said.

Elkins suggested turning on headlights while driving during a storm so others can see and start braking at a safe distance.

“I cannot stress it enough that everyone should drive at a slower speed during stormy conditions. Also, do not brake hard on wet roads. This will cause you to hydroplane and slide into a car or off the road,” Elkins said.

Driving slow, especially over standing water, is a safe way to avoid accidents in inclement weather. Other tips include beginning a stop earlier and pumping the brakes when the roads are wet, Magri said.