Distractions raise risk for highway work zone crash 29 times

The narrow lanes of highway work zones make them a dangerous area. All too often drivers will speed through them, not only raising the risk for a crash but also increasing the severity of their injuries when a crash occurs. West Virginia residents should know that previous studies on crash risk in highway work zones have relied on crash reports, which do not contain the most detailed information on driver behavior. One new study, though, is different.

Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that distracted drivers are 29 times more likely to get in a collision or near-collision in highway work zones. They based their conclusion on reconstructions of first-hand accounts of driver behavior and the surrounding environment.

The Transportation Research Board's SHRP2 (Strategic Highway Research Program 2) collected this data, which involved more than 3,000 individuals driving over 50 million miles between 2006 and 2015. The result was a more naturalistic driving study. There are seven projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration that are using this data, but only the University of Missouri is using it to look at highway work zones.

Calling, texting and even talking with a passenger can be distracting. A vehicle going 55 mph travels the length of a football field in five seconds, so anything that takes the driver's eyes off the road is dangerous.

Distracted driving is one form of negligent driving. Those who are injured through no fault of their own in a car crash may want to see a lawyer about filing a claim against the negligent driver. Third-party investigators may be brought in to prove negligence. This may involve getting the person's phone records, for example. The lawyer may then negotiate for a reasonable settlement covering victims' medical expenses, vehicle damage, pain and suffering and other losses.

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