Drivers in North Carolina who find themselves passing a work zone on the highway should be extra cautious because those areas can be magnets for accidents. With their narrow lanes and the tendency for drivers to ignore the reduced speed limit signs, it stands to reason to be extra cautious.

However, there may be one thing that’s worse for a highway work zone than someone speeding, and that’s a distracted driver. The University of Missouri conducted a study that concluded that drivers who are not paying attention to the road, regardless of for how long, are 29 times likelier to be in a collision or near-collision in a highway work zone.

Distractions should not be underestimated. Sending a text, for instance, takes an average of five seconds. In that time, a driver traveling 55 miles per hour will be inattentive for the distance of an entire football field. But almost anything can become a distraction: food and drink, the radio and even conversations with passengers.

The study was based on naturalistic driving data. As part of a study by the Transportation Research Board, over 3,000 drivers gave firsthand accounts detailing how they were interacting with their car and their surroundings before getting into a crash. This data, and the new study based on it, could prove helpful in the implementation of “behavioral countermeasures” that reduce unsafe driving.

Sadly, too many drivers assume they will never get in motor vehicle accidents and continue to act negligently. Fortunately for those who are injured through a driver’s negligence, they have the chance to seek compensation. In North Carolina, though, plaintiffs can only receive compensation if they did not contribute to the crash. To see how their case holds up to this rule, victims may consult with an attorney. They may have their lawyer negotiate for them as well.