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Every 5.4 minutes in Colorado and across the U.S., a car accident occurs in a highway work zone. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri says that inattentive driving, regardless of its duration, can raise the risk for a crash in a highway work zone 29 times.

Drivers can become inattentive by calling or sending texts, eating and drinking, adjusting the radio or even conversing with passengers. The effects of this can be devastating. For example, it takes roughly five seconds to send a text; during that time, a driver going 55 mph can travel the entire length of a football field without once considering his or her surroundings. The risk for a crash is even higher when drivers are speeding or when the lanes in a work zone are narrow.

The study may help state transportation agencies implement measures to influence driver behavior for the better and so improve safety. For example, it may encourage states without a texting ban to pass one and other states to create educational programs on distracted driving.

The study was unique in that it utilized naturalistic driving study data to see how distractions affected crash risk. This data detailed how drivers interacted with their vehicle and with the road prior to a crash.

Distracted driving is a form of negligence, and when it’s a factor in auto accidents, it can form the basis for a third-party insurance claim. Even those who were partially at fault may be able to recover compensatory damages under this state’s modified comparative negligence law. Regardless of what their situation is like, victims may want to request a legal evaluation of their case. If hired, the lawyer may strive for a fair settlement with the auto insurance companies.