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Highway work zone crashes often caused by distracted drivers

Distracted driving, whether caused by phone use or by talking with other passengers, is a major problem in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. A vehicle going 55 mph will cross the length of a football field in five seconds, and the average text takes about the same amount of time to read. This shows how dangerous driver inattention can be.

Highway work zones, with their narrow lanes, have long been considered a challenge to road safety. Speeding in these zones has always been correlated with serious accident-related injuries. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that distracted drivers are 29 times more likely to crash in these zones.

Unlike previous studies, which relied on crash reports, this study uses more detailed, naturalistic driving data for its results. This data comes from a study made for the Transportation Research Board's second Strategic Highway Research Program, which involved more than 3,000 drivers traveling over 50 million miles from 2006 and 2015. It consists of first-hand accounts of driver interactions with their vehicles, the road and their surroundings.

Seven projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration utilize this data, but only the University of Missouri study has used it to focus on highway work zone safety. Researchers may soon use this study to recommend "behavioral countermeasures" to state transportation agencies.

Car accidents can leave victims with medical expenses, vehicle damage, lost wages and both physical and emotional pain. If someone is the victim of a distracted driver, however, they may be eligible for compensation via a settlement. A personal injury lawyer might hire investigators and medical experts to strengthen the case and then negotiate for a higher payout.

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