A distracted driver is almost 30 times more likely to crash in a highway work zone. In a recent study reported on by Science Daily, researchers at the University of Missouri found that drivers who answered a phone call, texted, or reported being distracted by a passenger were 29 times more likely to be in a collision at or near a federal highway work zone. Given the decade-long increase in the number of car accidents on American roadways, state and federal transportation agencies will use the study to implement “countermeasures” to reduce the number of distracted drivers.
Traffic safety experts say the results of the study are not entirely surprising. Distracted driving is dangerous and substantially increases the risk of a car accident or pedestrian accident. Further, work zones typically have riskier road conditions such as poor signage, narrower lanes, and reduced visibility. The study, which included only data from federal highways, also pointed out that the high speed limit on highways – generally, 55 mph – meant that collisions would be harder to prevent and any resulting injuries more severe. The data included more than 3,000 drivers and covered more than 50 million miles.
The report illuminated the role of drivers in ensuring the safety of highway work zones. The report concluded by offering recommendations to reduce injuries and fatalities in work zones. These included new or stronger laws against texting and driving, a popular and deadly habit for American drivers. A public education campaign, similar to the drunk driving campaigns common across the country, could also reduce dangerous driving in work zones. Finally, the report recommended engaging automobile manufacturers and assisting in developing technologies that will minimize the opportunity for distractions and proactively reduce the likelihood and severity of an imminent collision.
According to the federal government, driving has become more dangerous each year for the last decade. Traffic safety experts say the proliferation of smartphones is one of the primary causes for the nationwide increase. With the majority of Americans saying they text while driving, policies to discourage this dangerous habit are long overdue.
Please contact Gallivan & Gallivan if you have been injured in a motor vehicle crash.