Drivers in New Jersey can become distracted for any number of reasons. They may use their phone, adjust the radio, eat and drink or even converse with a passenger. There’s no questioning that distracted driving is dangerous. Sending a text, for example, takes about five seconds, during which time a driver going 55 mph could travel the length of a football field without even being aware of it.

Such a form of negligent driving can easily lead to a crash in a highway work zones. In fact, according to a new study from the University of Missouri, the risk for a collision or near-collision in such zones goes up 29 times for inattentive drivers regardless of how long that inattention lasts.

What made this study unique is that it relied not on crash reports but on the data of a naturalistic driving study conducted by the Transportation Research Board. This data included the first-hand accounts of more than 3,000 drivers who were in a crash and detailed their interactions with their car, the road and their environment prior to the crash.

Highway work zones, with their narrow lanes and the possibility of drivers speeding, are already known for being dangerous. This new study may help state transportation agencies produce “behavioral countermeasures” that ensure safety in and out of work zones.

When an auto accident is clearly the result of negligence, and when victims have suffered serious injuries that cannot be covered by personal injury protection, there’s the chance that victims can file a personal injury claim. It may be a good idea to hire a lawyer, especially when it comes to negotiating a settlement. If successful, victims might be reimbursed for their past and future medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.