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Inattention Raises Risk for Highway Work Zone Crash 29 Times

Car accidents frequently occur in highway work zones in Ohio and around the country, and one of the leading causes is distracted driving. Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that drivers being inattentive for any length of time are 29 times more likely to have a collision or near-collision in a highway work zone.

Unlike in previous studies, which simply combed through police reports to find which crashes happened in a highway work zone, this study reconstructed crashes from first-hand accounts that showed how driver behaviors, vehicle types, road conditions and environmental factors played a role. Their data was taken from the Naturalistic Driving Study conducted as part of the Transportation Research Board’s second Strategic Highway Research Program.

Drivers can become inattentive in many ways. They may use their phone to call or text or may let themselves be distracted in a conversation with a passenger. The effect of this should not be underestimated. A driver traveling 55 mph and taking five seconds to send a text will travel the length of a football field without looking at the road. Crashes in highway work zones arise every 5.4 minutes in this country. The results of the study, though, may help transportation agencies come up with “behavioral countermeasures,” like texting bans, to improve driver and worker safety.

When distracted drivers cause auto accidents, the victims may be eligible for compensation. To see if they have a valid case, victims may ask a lawyer for an assessment. If the case is strong, the lawyer may hire third parties to investigate the crash and bring together evidence of the other side’s responsibility. The lawyer may negotiate for a reasonable settlement covering medical bills, lost wages and other damages.