Driving in Jackson, MS - Everything You Need to Know

Jackson is the capital of Mississippi and is home to numerous historic sites that played a significant role in the civil rights movement. While many drivers may drive right past it on Interstate 55 while en route to New Orleans or on a road trip, Jackson is an exciting place to visit with family and friends. It’s time for travelers to know all of the great places and things Jackson has to offer!

Jackson, MS Road

Major Jackson Highways and Roads

Mississippi is located in the southern part of the United States. The state borders Arkansas and Louisiana on the western side, Tennessee on the northern side, and Alabama on the eastern side. The Mississippi River runs through the western portion, and the town of Jackson sits right in the middle, boasting spectacular scenery.

Jackson is central to five-county metropolitan regions and over 5 million people. Some of the major highways and roads in Jackson, Mississippi, include:

  • Interstate 20: This interstate road runs east and west and connects Vicksburg with Meridian, crossing the southern parts of Jackson. In the event of a road trip, this is also the interstate that would carry you in the direction of Salt Lake City, Wyoming, Idaho Falls, and more.  
  • Interstate 55: I-55 is the main highway that runs north to south through the state of Mississippi, linking major metropolitan areas like New Orleans and Memphis outside of the state with Jackson.
  • Interstate 220: This road forms a half-beltway that serves the northern and western parts of Jackson. This four-lane freeway has a rural design with maximum speed limits of 70 miles per hour. The north end intersects with I-55 and is a three-level interchange.
  • U.S. 49 / Medgar Evers Boulevard: This U.S. highway circumvents Jackson, entering Richmond from the south, bringing traffic to the I-55 corridor going north from Hattiesburg and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
  • U.S. 51 / State Street: This U.S. road overlaps with Interstate 55 north from Crystal Springs in Copiah County.
  • U.S. 80: This road serves local traffic, running across south Jackson, varying from four to five-lane commercial arterial east to Lynch Creek. U.S. 80 elevates across State Street.
  • Pascagoula / Pearl Street: The Pearl and Pascagoula Street was built in conjunction with Interstate 55. Pearl Street goes west along the south side of the Mississippi Coliseum and the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. Pascagoula Street runs parallel to Pearl Street, just one block to the south, heading east from the Jackson Convention Complex.
  • Terry Road: This road is a pre-freeway alignment of U.S. 51 going south from U.S. 80 from Jackson to Taylorsville, New Byram, and Cunningham Avenue at I-55 in Terry. 

You can take these roads to visit some of the most well-known landmarks in Jackson but be sure to get directions so you know where to go and the best route to take. We have a quick breakdown below:

  • Mississippi State Capitol: The current capitol building is the third capitol building built in Jackson. The first was built in 1822, the second was built in 1833, and the current one was built in 1903. This historic landmark is home to the state’s legislature and is known for its stunning architecture. You can find this building between State Street and N West Street to the east and west and between High Street and Mississippi Street to the north and south.
  • Old Capitol Museum: This museum served as the Mississippi statehouse from 1839 until 1903 and is known as the most historic building in Mississippi. This is the site of a few of the state’s most significant legislative actions, such as the 1839 Married Women’s Property Act, Mississippi’s secession from the Union in 1861, and where the 1868 and 1890 state constitutions were drafted. The museum is located right off State Street, just north of Pearl Street.
  • Medgar Evers Home: This home is also known as the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument and is a historic house built in 1956. It was the home of African American civil rights activist Medgar Evers at the time of his assassination. The address of the house is 2332 Margaret Walker Alexander Drive in Jackson, Mississippi.
  • Mississippi Governor’s Mansion: This home is the official residence of Tate Reeves, the current Governor of Mississippi. The mansion is located in downtown Jackson, south of the Mississippi State Capitol, and at the south end of Smith Park.
  • Mississippi War Memorial Building: This memorial pays tribute to those who have served in wars to defend the freedom of Americans. The building stands on North State Street, featuring unique cast aluminum doors and features meant to recreate scenes from various wars, from the Battle of Ackia in 1736 to the Vietnam War.

Getting Around Jackson and Public Transportation

The various major highways and main roads make driving around Jackson easier than most major metropolitan areas. It’s recommended that you utilize your preferred travel maps while in Jackson, popular ones include: MapQuest, Bing Maps, TravelMath, and Google Maps. However, in addition to driving, you can also get around through various forms of public transportation or bus routes.

The JTRAN is an operation of fixed bus routes operated by the City of Jackson, Department of Planning and Development Transit Services Division in the Office of City Planning. It provides both fixed-route and demand-responsive bus services throughout Jackson. Bus stops are located in about one-quarter mile intervals along each route. Riders can find stops by locating the JTRAN sign.

The Basic pricing is $1.50 for a one-way ride, or you can buy weekly passes at $15 per week, or monthly passes for $42 per month. If you are a senior, disabled, a Medicare holder, a student, or a child, you can receive a discount.

The Most Dangerous Roads and Intersections in Jackson

Any highway or road can be dangerous for drivers, no matter where they are located. An overview of Jackson shows that most accident activity falls along I-55 and I-20, as indicated in the image below:

Jackson MS heat map

If you take a closer look, the most amount of accidents appear to occur at the intersection between Mississippi State Road 25 and I-55:

Jackson MS Driving Heat Map

You can see that many of the accidents occur near the Belhaven University and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

Another common area for accidents is at the south side of Jackson where I-55 and I-20 meet, as well as State Street:

Jackson MS Driving Heat Map

The red area near Petro Shopping Center, specifically near the roads by Lynch Creek, experiences a lot of accidents. This red area runs right at the intersection of E McDowell Road and S Gallatin Street.

Jackson Traffic Updates

hen driving around Jackson, it is crucial to stay up-to-date with typical traffic conditions and make sure you are aware of anything that may delay your drive. By being aware of any traffic, you can avoid delay by taking a different route or leaving earlier so that you do not arrive late to your destination. Things like national parks, lakes, and wildlife might wait, but restaurants and reservations might not. To minimize your chances of running into problems, follow our recommendations and always be prepared!

MDOT has a free resource where you can receive both email and text alerts about traffic and road conditions. You can also view live traffic feeds through the state cameras along major highways. MDOT created a mobile traffic app that is free to download, some features include:

  • Creating location-based alerts
  • Reporting hazards
  • Emergency Information
  • Customized map view

Costs of Traffic Tickets

In Mississippi, the costs for speeding tickets vary based on where the violation occurred and how fast the driver was driving (i.e., how many miles per hour the driver was driving over the limit). However, the average cost of a speeding violation in Mississippi ranges from $150 to $300.

For example, if you drive 30 miles per hour over the limit in Jackson, the cost will be $309 plus $5 per mile after the 30 mph over. For parking tickets, the minimum fee is $20. The city writes around 15,500 tickets per year.

Though most states use a point system to track careless, dangerous, or reckless drivers, Mississippi does not use a point system. However, the state does record every moving violation on a driver’s driving record. If a driver accumulates too many moving violations, the state will suspend the driver’s license. Each additional violation will render additional harsher penalties, such as revoking one’s license.

Getting to Other Major Cities

From Jackson, you can also travel to many other major metropolitan cities. Some of the neighboring cities that are driving distance away include:

  • New Orleans: New Orleans, Louisiana, is 186 miles from Jackson, Mississippi. You can get from Jackson to New Orleans in around 2 hours via I-55.
  • Memphis: Memphis, Tennessee is 210 miles from Jackson. You can get from Memphis to New Orleans in 3 hours and 2 minutes via I-55.
  • Atlanta: Atlanta, Georgia is 381.4 miles from Jackson. You can drive there in 5 hours and 30 minutes via I-20.
  • Baton Rouge: Baton Rouge, Louisiana is 174.2 miles from Jackson. You can get to Memphis in 2 hours and 30 minutes via 1-55.
  • Mobile: Mobile, Alabama is 190.1 miles from Jackson. You can get to Mobile in 3 hours 21 minutes via U.S. 49 S and US-98 E.

Jackson Driving Laws

While behind the wheel in Jackson, drivers must abide by both state and local laws. Some of the essential laws to be aware of include:

  • Phone Laws: Unlike most other states, Mississippi does not have any restrictions on cell phone use while driving unless you are a bus driver. However, Mississippi does have a distracted driving law that prohibits drivers from sending text messages, emails, and other messages, or accessing, reading, or posting to a social network site while driving. You can use a handheld device to talk on the phone while driving.
  • Motorcycle Laws: Both motorcycle drivers and motorcycle passengers must wear an approved motorcycle helmet when driving a motorcycle. Lane-splitting is not allowed in Mississippi.
  • International Drivers: International drivers can drive in Mississippi with a valid license from the driver’s home country. However, you must also have an international driving permit when driving and renting a car in Mississippi.
  • Driving Age: Drivers could get their first regular driver’s license at 16.5 years old if they had their intermediate license for at least six months. If you never previously possessed a license or a permit, you could get your regular license at seventeen years old without having to apply for a learner’s permit. A commercial driver’s license, or a CDL, has a separate set of guidelines. 
  • Self-Driving Laws: Currently, there are not any laws in Mississippi that address non-commercial, self-driving cars. There are also currently no laws that explicitly prohibit self-driving vehicles.
  • Pedestrian Laws: Jackson’s Code of Ordinances states that pedestrians are not allowed to cross a roadway other than in a crosswalk in a business district. Pedestrians must always use a sidewalk, if one exists, or travel only on the left side of the street or the shoulder facing traffic if no sidewalk exists.

All drivers and pedestrians should familiarize themselves with these laws to avoid getting tickets or being injured in an accident.

Road in downtown Jackson, MS

Getting To and From Jackson

Besides getting around Jackson using the JTRAN, it is important to know how you can get to and from Jackson, Mississippi:

  • Amtrak: Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network connecting more than 500 destinations in over 46 states, Washington D.C., and three Canadian provinces.
  • Greyhound Buses: Greyhound Lines, Inc. is the largest bus provider of intercity bus transportation, providing eight inbound and outbound buses every day. Greyhound serves 2400 destinations across North America. You can find the Jackson Bus Station located at 300 W Capitol St., Jackson, MS 39201.
  • Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport: This airport maintains two 8,500-foot runways, serving American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines. Southwest Airlines is set to return in June 2021. The airport provides daily direct flights to and from: Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, and Washington, D.C. Traveling by plane is always an easy way to get in and out of the city, but always ensure you are aware of the flight time to and from your destination.

How To Get A Driver’s License In Jackson

If you are older than 17 years of age, you have to complete the application form and other documentation, pay the fee, pass the vision exam, pass a computerized exam, and pass the driving skills test.

To ensure that you pass, many drivers benefit significantly by taking a class at a driving school. Some of the best driving schools in Jackson, Mississippi include:

  • Mississippi Public Education Driving School
  • Roadmaster Drivers School
  • Southern Mississippi Training Academy
  • DSC Training Academy
  • Stick Shift Driving Academy
  • Creative Drivers Ed School
  • CRW Truck Driving School
  • Mississippi Safety Services
  • Ace Training Center
  • KLLM Driving Academy
  • SEC Training Centers

Parking in Jackson

Parking in any city can be a hassle. However, there are mobile applications that exist that can make parking a breeze. You can use the app, Parkopedia, to search on a map the various available parking around the city and whether it will cost a fee or is free.

You can also pull into a parking spot with a meter and pay for the parking right at the meter by using a credit card, coins, or phone. The city recently released a plan that will allow for the implementation of using smart meters that communicate via a cloud-based data management system.

Another option is to use the website parking.com/Jackson, where you can type in an address or venue on the date and time you need to find parking, which will produce various options for you.

Are accidents common in Jackson?

Again, similar to most other cities, car accidents happen daily in Jackson. However, impaired driving (such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol) and distracted driving (such as texting while driving) are the most common causes of accidents in the city. The roads can get especially dangerous in the rainy months on Mississippi, such as in April.

If you are in an accident while driving in Jackson, Mississippi, you should always report the accident and be sure to write down all of the relevant information of what happened, who the other driver was, and any other crucial details. Before accepting any settlement claims from insurance companies, be sure to consult with an experienced attorney to learn about your legal rights.