Inattention escalates risk for highway work zone accidents

Drivers in Missouri, as elsewhere, are expected to pay continual attention to the road. Activities like using the phone, eating, drinking and talking with passengers take one’s attention away from the road, making a crash more likely. This is especially the case in highway work zones. Experts calculate that there’s a highway work zone crash every 5.4 minutes in the US.

University of Missouri researchers have found that the risk for a highway work zone accident or a close call increases by 29 among people who don’t pay attention while driving no matter how long they take their eyes off the road. Work zones are already dangerous for several reasons. First, there are usually some lanes that are closed. Second, work zones usually require reduced speeds, and drivers are not always willing to slow down.

The study is unique in that it relied upon naturalistic driving study. The Transportation Research Board’s second Strategic Highway Research Program’s study involved the firsthand accounts of over 3,000 drivers. These individuals explained how they were interacting with their car and their environment before getting into a crash.

Researchers believe their new study could assist state transportation agencies with devising ways to reduce distracted driving. These include better public education and laws against texting and phone use in general.

It’s up to individual drivers whether they want to distract themselves while behind the wheel. Those who are injured because of another person’s bad decision may pursue a personal injury case against that individual’s insurance company, but the process can be complicated without legal assistance. Negotiations, in particular, can be difficult as insurance companies will do all they can to deny payment or get plaintiffs to agree to a lowball settlement. Victims may consider a legal consultation first.