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Distractions increase chances of highway zone crash 29 times

Drivers in Oklahoma, as elsewhere, can become distracted by their passengers or by their phones. A vehicle going 55 mph will travel the length of a football field in five seconds, and the average text takes five seconds to read, so it is clear that distracted driving is dangerous. A new study has shown that it is especially dangerous in highway work zones: A distracted driver’s risk for a collision or near-collision goes up 29 times in these zones.

Researchers at the University of Missouri came to this conclusion after analyzing data from the Transportation Research Board’s second Strategic Highway Research Program. This previous study provides naturalistic driving data collected between 2006 and 2015 from more than 3,000 drivers traveling over 50 million miles. Researchers reconstructed driver behavior and the surrounding environment based on this data.

They focused on highway work zones because of the greater hazards they present, especially their narrow lanes. Speed in these zones also correlates to injury severity. Researchers hope to show that drivers have a role in maintaining safety in work zones.

The results may help the Federal Highway Administration and state transportation agencies in the development of “behavioral countermeasures” for reducing injuries and death in work zones. They may help by providing recommendations for new or stricter texting laws and for better public education.

When distracted drivers cause a crash, their auto insurance companies may find themselves facing a claim from the victims. Victims, for their part, may want to hire an attorney who works in auto accident law. The attorney may start with a case evaluation. Third parties like investigators and medical experts might come in to strengthen the case and determine the extent of victims’ injuries. The lawyer may then proceed to negotiations, litigating if a settlement cannot be achieved.