Just the thought of being in a head-on car accident can create anxiety. Head-on collisions can be hazardous and deadly, especially if you’re in a crash involving a semi-truck.
Learning the common causes of these accidents can help you avoid them, however.
Below we explore the critical things you should know about head-on accidents when you’re on the roadways.
The Basics of a Head-On Collision
While they’re scary and often fatal, these types of accidents aren’t all that common overall. Head-on crashes make up only around 2% of all accidents that occur in the U.S.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports they happen in rural areas most often. They’re responsible for around 13% of all deadly rural accidents. In urban areas, less than 7% of deadly accidents are head-on.
While they’re rare, the injuries tend to be severe with these types of collisions, especially when high speeds are involved. For example, it’s somewhat common for victims of head-on collisions to have brain injuries and head injuries, back injuries, and broken bones. Organ damage is also possible.
When two vehicles are traveling in opposite directions before colliding, it can be especially catastrophic.
What Causes These Accidents?
While every situation is different, some of the more common causes of vehicles crashing into each other head-on include:
- Distracted driving: This is a significant cause of not just vehicles colliding head-on but all other types of accidents. We have so much technology available, and if we aren’t paying attention, it becomes likelier to hit a car coming the opposite way.
- Severe weather: Whether it’s heavy rain or fog, snow, or ice, extreme weather increases the risk of all types of car and vehicle accidents, including head-on situations. There’s decreased visibility, which is the primary reason it becomes challenging when the weather is bad.
- Driving while impaired: If you’re driving at certain times, such as late at night or during a holiday, you’re more likely to encounter an impaired driver. Someone drinking or using mind-altering substances can get easily distracted and lose control of their vehicle. They might then drift into oncoming traffic, leading to a head-on crash. It’s also possible that someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol could do something like driving down a one-way street.
- Speeding: The faster a vehicle is going, the more damage will occur in an accident. Also, if someone is speeding, they’re more likely to miss something such as a road sign redirecting them, upping the risk of a head-on crash.
- Aggressive driving: Also known as road rage, anytime someone is driving aggressively, they are putting themselves and the people around them at risk.
- Confusion: If someone doesn’t see signage or maybe it’s not posted where it’s highly visible, it can lead to a crash because of someone going down a one-way road. A failure of a GPS to warn a driver about this can also cause an accident.
Other causes of head-on car accidents include inexperienced driving, driving while tired, and failure to obey traffic signals and signs.
What Can You Do to Avoid Head-On Collisions?
While you can’t avoid other drivers on roadways, and you can’t eliminate all risks when you’re behind the wheel, certain things are within your power to prevent head-on collisions.
- Try to avoid driving when drunk drivers are more likely to be on the roads whenever you can. Again, this includes late at night and on weekends and holidays. If you can work around these high-risk times, it’s helpful in general for your safety.
- Pay close attention to all pavement markings. The color of lines in the center and edge lines let you know if you’re going in the wrong direction. You also need to be mindful about things like Wrong Way signs.
- Slow your speed. If you’re going at a reasonable speed, even if you are in an accident, it may reduce some of the impact. When you go at a normal speed, you’re also giving yourself more reaction time if something happens and more braking distance.
- Stay alert. Don’t ever drive when you’re tired, and avoid any distractions, including eating and drinking when you’re behind the wheel.
Finally, be careful if you’re going to pass another vehicle. Make sure you have plenty of room to pass them safely. Don’t pass if there’s any oncoming car visible to you or if there’s a solid yellow line closest to your lane.