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Kentucky residents who pass by work zones on a regular basis on the highway should know just how dangerous these areas can be. The number of lanes is reduced, and drivers may ignore the lower speed limit. Not only that, but even drivers who are going the speed limit may pose a threat by becoming inattentive.

A study from the University of Missouri analyzed the effect that inattention has on crash risk in highway work zones. For this, researchers relied not on the limited data given in crash reports but on the results of a naturalistic driving study conducted by the Transportation Research Board. The conclusion they came to was that inattentive drivers are 29 times likelier to be in a collision or near-collision in these zones.

Drivers could be sending a text message, which takes approximately five seconds, or adjusting a radio for a split second. Researchers said that the length of time for which drivers are distracted does not alter the risk. One can see, then, why there is a highway work zone crash every 5.4 minutes in this country.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of the Transportation Research Board. Many state transportation agencies, as well as automakers building self-driving cars, may find these results helpful.

While there is always room for improvement in work zone safety, it’s ultimately up to drivers whether they want to be negligent or not. When negligence leads to serious harm, those who were the innocent victims may pursue a personal injury case rather than file with their own insurance company. Still, they may want legal assistance. A lawyer may speak on their behalf at the negotiation table, and if the insurance company refuses to pay out, he or she may proceed to litigation.