Work zone related car crashes up significantly

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -- As construction workers continue to try to make Nebraska roads safer, data shows the roads are getting more dangerous for workers.

According to the Nebraska Department of Transportation work zone car crashes have doubled from 2015 to 2016. In 2016 there were 1,000 work related crashes, in the last 10 years 2011 had the lowest number with 570, a 43%. From 2011 to 2016 there were 6 work zone fatalities.

"I think with the speed limits increasing the traffic increasing, driver awareness I think has gone down, everyone's in a big hurry to get where they're going and people aren't paying attention quite as much," said Joe Kuen, highway project manager, Department of Transportation.

Kuen has been working on roads for 25 years and said it's getting more and more dangerous.

"When you're out there you see accidents all the time," he said.

Mark Segerstrom, road safety project coordinator with the Nebraska Safety Council, said he thinks the the increase comes from more distractions in drivers vehicles.

"It only takes 2 seconds with your eyes off the road that actually doubles your chance of a crash," said Segerstrom.

AAA just released a study saying that taking two seconds to give a device a voice command can cognitively distract you for up to 27 seconds, but if you physically touch a screen you can be distracted for up to 40 seconds because you're still thinking about what you did.

He said he thinks the numbers will decrease if work zone laws are enforced, police officers are placed at sites, and there is more worker-employee training,