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Highway work zone wrecks 29 times likelier for distracted drivers

Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that drivers who are distracted for any length of time are 29 times more likely to get in a crash or near-collision in a highway work zone. The distractions in question can be anything from calling or texting to talking with a passenger. South Carolina residents should know that this study has been published in the Journal of the Transportation Research Board.

Unlike other studies, this one does not rely on crash reports, which never provide detailed information on driver behavior prior to a crash, but rather uses reconstructions of that behavior and the environment of each crash based on first-hand accounts. Researchers used data from a previous study by the Transportation Research Board that involved the actions of more than 3,000 drivers who drove over 50 million miles between the years 2006 and 2015.

The study focused on highway work zones because their narrow lanes have long been known to be unsafe and because speeding in these zones is correlated with injury severity. It helps clarify the role of drivers in maintaining highway work zone safety, and its results could assist the Federal Highway Administration in creating "behavioral countermeasures" in the effort to reduce injuries and fatalities in these zones.

Distracted driving continues to be a major issue, but those who are injured in a car accident because of a distracted driver may be eligible for compensation under personal injury law. In this state, plaintiffs can recover damages even if they are partially to blame so long as their degree of fault is lower than the defendant's. Victims may consider hiring a lawyer for the filing of their personal injury claim. The lawyer might, in turn, hire investigators to gather evidence of the other's negligence: For example, the crash report or phone records.

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