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Distraction linked with higher risk for highway work zone crashes

Highway work zones have long been known to pose a challenge to road safety in Illinois and across the U.S. This is because the narrow lanes of a construction area are always much less safe. Researchers at the University of Missouri have found out that these zones are particularly dangerous for distracted drivers. These motorists are 29 times more likely to crash in work areas.

Many activities can be distracting to drivers -- smartphone use, adjusting the radio, applying makeup and even conversing with passengers. Previous studies focusing on work zone safety have relied on accident reports, which do not give detailed information on how a driver was behaving prior to the crash. However, this new study uses more naturalistic driving data.

The data comes from a study made by the Transportation Research Board's second Strategic Highway Research Program. Between 2006 and 2015, researchers gathered first-hand accounts of the behavior of more than 3,000 drivers as they interacted with their vehicles, the roadway and the surrounding conditions.

Of the seven Federal Highway Administration-funded projects that are utilizing this data, this is the only one that focuses on highway work zones. Using the results, researchers may approach the FHWA and state transportation agencies with a recommendation for texting bans, better public education and other countermeasures meant to prevent work zone crashes.

A car accident injury can leave a victim dealing with medical bills, pain and suffering and even a diminished capacity to earn a living. However, they may be able to seek damages if they are determined to be less than 50 percent at fault for the crash. With a lawyer by their side, the crash victim may strengthen their case against the defendant and strive for a fair settlement.

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