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Distraction means higher risk of highway work zone crashes

Everything from using the phone to conversations with passengers can distract a North Carolina driver. They should know that this raises their car crash risks. In particular, it makes them 29 times more likely to crash in a highway work zone. This is the conclusion that researchers at the University of Missouri recently arrived at.

Researchers used first-hand accounts of driver behavior in the study, which set it apart from previous studies that relied almost entirely on the vague information found in police reports. This more naturalistic driving data was provided by the Transportation Research Board's Strategic Highway's second Strategic Highway Research Program's Naturalistic Driving Study. In this study, researchers collected data from over 3,000 drivers between 2006 and 2015.

The data covers more than 50 million miles traveled and lays out how drivers interacted with their vehicles, the roadway and the surrounding environment. University of Missouri researchers are the only ones using this data to focus on highway work zones.

The results of this study may allow researchers to recommend "behavioral countermeasures" to the FHWA and state transportation agencies. These recommendations may include texting and driving bans as well as better public education on the perils of distracted driving.

Drivers are supposed to maintain control of their vehicles at all times. Therefore, being distracted while behind the wheel may be considered negligent. An injured victim of a car crash may want to consult with an attorney. If the other driver was distracted, that can be good grounds for a personal injury claim.

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