A new University of Missouri study is expected to help regulators and lawmakers across the nation form “behavioral countermeasures” designed to make highway work zones safer. A recent article on the study says the Federal Highway Administration and other agencies are implementing countermeasures to reduce the number of distracted driving crashes, injuries and fatalities in highway work zones.

The University of Missouri study recommends bans on texting while driving, improvements in driver education and policies that will further deter distracted driving.

“Prior to our study, researchers analyzed data on work zone safety by looking at one checkbox among 70 to 80 different fields on a police officer’s crash report to see if the crash occurred inside a work zone,” said Praveen Edara, professor of civil and environmental engineering in the school’s College of Engineering. He added that the new study uses “naturalistic driving study data” that gave researchers “information about how driver, vehicle, roadway, and environmental factors contribute to a crash.”

Edara said his group “reconstructed a driver’s actions and the surrounding environment prior to the crash from a firsthand account.” They collected data from more than 3,000 drivers, using the Transportation Research Board’s second Strategic Highway Research Program’s Naturalistic Driving Study. That research offers detailed firsthand accounts of the vehicle, roadway and surrounding environment.

The University of Missouri study is the first to use this detailed data to focus on highway work zone crashes.

Let’s hope the research helps lawmakers and regulators improve work zone safety for workers and drivers alike.

Those injured in highway crashes should speak with an attorney experienced in personal injury litigation before talking to insurance company representatives.