Drivers in California will want to be extra careful when passing a work zone on the highway. They should reduce their speed to the posted speed limit and, moreover, stay attentive at all times. One study actually says that drivers who are inattentive raise their risk for a crash or near-collision in a highway work zone 29 times.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri using data from a previous study, a naturalistic driving analysis that Transportation Research Board had performed. This study involved more than 3,000 drivers and gave first-hand accounts of drivers’ interactions with their vehicles, the road and the environment. So far, MU is the only place that has used this data to focus exclusively on highway work zones.

The length of the distraction is of little consequence, researchers say. Drivers can be taking five seconds to send a text, or they can be adjusting the radio or eating, and they will run the same risk every time. It stands to reason, then, that there is a crash in a highway work zone every 5.4 minutes in this nation.

State transportation agencies looking to reduce highway work zone crashes could benefit from looking at this study. They may then set up the appropriate “behavioral countermeasures” like texting bans.

Distracted driving is an obvious form of negligence, so whenever motor vehicle crashes are clearly the result of it, they may become the subject of a personal injury claim. Those who are injured through little or no fault of their own are, after all, entitled to compensation for the cost of their medical treatments, the wages they lost and their pain and suffering. To see how much they might be eligible for, they may get in touch with an attorney.