Have You Been Injured? We're Ready to Fight for You.

Where Are Head-On Collisions More Likely To Occur?

Published on Apr 14, 2022 by Thomas Law Offices.

Crushed headlight

When you think of crashes, you might fear becoming involved in almost any type. A head-on collision is what some motorists worry about the most, though.

Many of us have seen scenes in movies or stories on the news where these types of accidents leave a vehicle nothing more than a mangled mess of metal or with a portion of the vehicle sheared away. Motorists tend to worry if there’s any possibility of surviving such a catastrophic crash. The truth is the speed and angle at which the crash occurs largely dictates this.

We will try to get to the bottom of where head-on collisions are more likely to occur and factors that dictate how serious physical damage and injuries resulting from these crashes tend to be throughout the remainder of this article.

What Are Head-on Crashes?

A head-on collision is one in which the front ends of two vehicles, traveling in opposite directions toward each other, strike each other. These types of crashes are sometimes referred to as frontal impact collisions.

How Common Are Head-on Collisions?

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data suggests that the incidence rate of head-on crashes is quite minimal at only 2%.

These accidents most commonly occur in rural areas, accounting for 13% of fatalities in those environments. Those same statistics show that 7% of fatal crashes that occur in urban settings are head-on collisions.

What Are Reasons That Head-on Crashes Occur?

There are various reasons why frontal impact accidents like head-on ones may occur.

One situation perhaps unique to urban environments is the potential for a motorist to come upon a one-way street in a downtown area. A head-on collision may occur in this situation as a motorist makes a turn or travels in the wrong direction.

Other more general reasons head-on collisions occur include:

  • Driver intoxication
  • Inclement weather affecting visibility
  • Driver fatigue
  • Distractions

Circumstances unique to some suburban and most rural settings that may lead to a higher incidence rate of head-on crashes are an uptick in two-lane roadways. Motorists in these areas run the risk of becoming involved in a head-on crash as they:

  • Try to pass another vehicle by traveling into the oncoming traffic lane.
  • Temporarily navigate into an oncoming traffic lane upon encountering an obstruction.

The potential for motorists to speed, operate a vehicle while intoxicated, or for motorists to become increasingly tired as they navigate monotonous rural roadways are all concerns that increase the potential that a rural accident will occur.

A driver’s lack of familiarity with winding road designs that often predominate in rural areas also leaves them vulnerable to becoming entangled in a head-on collision.

How Speed Impacts a Head-on Collision’s Severity

Speed greatly impacts the extent of damage caused by a crash. Almost every modern vehicle comes equipped with crumple zones that become physically distorted when exposed to sudden, forceful impact. Auto manufacturers generally construct vehicles with additional reinforcement around the passenger compartments to keep us safe, though.

Authors of a previous Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study determined that there are significant differences in the survivability rates of crashes when vehicles are struck at 40 mph or lower versus at 50-56 mph.

Other studies have suggested that speed can be even more deadly if both vehicles involved in the crash were traveling at that 50 mph mark or higher. The impact of a crash is likely to be more akin to what it would be like if a single car struck a stationary object at 100 mph or more in such a situation.

How Angle Affects the Severity of a Head-on Accident

As suggested above, each vehicle has its own crumple zones that may be damaged yet keep vehicle occupants safe. Federal regulators often test automobiles to see how effective they are at withstanding a crash and keeping motorists safe. They simulate different types of collisions to see how they respond.

Ones that happen straight-on are much more likely to crush the vehicle’s front end, resulting in a broken windshield and coming eerily close, if not entering into the front row seats in the passenger compartment. Angled crashes will likely cause some front-end damage to the vehicle on one side but are less likely to impact all vehicle occupants. In either instance, the front air bag will likely deploy.

Injuries Most Commonly Resulting From Head-on Collisions

Motorists involved in head-on crashes often experience catastrophic injuries. Some of the most common ones members of our legal team see clients suffering from include:

  • Fractured bones
  • Bruising
  • Cuts (often requiring stitches)
  • Internal organ damage
  • Neck injuries
  • Concussions and head trauma
  • Back injuries

While physical impairments stemming from head-on collisions are common, we must not forget about the potential for long-lasting mental health concerns to emerge following such a traumatic accident as this.

Motorists often receive post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses after catastrophic crashes such as head-on ones. Mental health conditions such as this may leave accident victims with lingering:

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Nightmares or flashbacks
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Guilty feelings or second-guessing
  • Social anxiety
  • Forgetfulness

While there’s no question that physical injuries can be painful and life-altering, many individuals who suffer mental health setbacks after a crash argue they can be just as debilitating. Matters can be particularly bad if a motorist has to deal with both physical and mental wounds left behind by their head-on collision.

What Is an Attorney’s Role in Your Head-on Accident Case?

There’s no turning back the hands of time and making an accident go away once it has occurred. However, you do have a right to hold the person who struck you accountable for what they did. Our legal system here in Kentucky allows you to do that by filing an insurance claim or civil suit against the motorist who hurt you.

Taking legal action against someone following an auto accident means that the responsibility falls on your shoulders to prove that the other driver’s negligence resulted in your injuries. One of our Louisville car accident attorneys can go over the elements you must establish to prove liability in such cases here in Kentucky.

Schedule a no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal matter today. Doing so is the first step in the right direction of recovering compensation in your case.

Free Case Evaluation

At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out of pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

Call us or fill out the form below to tell us about your potential case and a personal injury lawyer will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

Legal & Firm News

Illinois Motorcycle Accident Statistics

  Many individuals would never consider getting on a motorcycle to ride up and down Chicago area roadways, interstates included, because of the inherent dangers it poses. However, according to the Illinois Secretary of State, there are at least 315,000 licensed motorcycles that have the potential to ride up and down Illinois roads daily. Given […]

Read More

Most Common Car Accident Injuries in Chicago

When listing the most common car accident injuries in Chicago, it’s good to keep in mind that no two collisions are the same. Vehicle wrecks result in a wide range of injuries. While some are minor, having little impact on the victim’s day-to-day, others are catastrophic, impacting every aspect of the survivor’s life. What are […]

Read More

If Someone Gets Hurt While Working on Your Property Are You Liable?

Every property owner in the state of Illinois has a duty of care to maintain safe premises that are free from hazardous and dangerous conditions. But what happens when someone is hurt? As a property owner, if someone gets hurt while working on your property, are you liable? And what legal rights do injured victims […]

Read More
Tad Thomas on The National Crime Victim Bar Association
National Civil Justice Institute - Trustee
Tad Thomas on Lawyer Minds
Tad Thomas on American Association for Justice
Southern Trial Lawyers Association
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
Ohio Association for Justice
Kentucky Justice Association
Fellows of the Litigation Counsel of America
Martindale Hubbell Preeminent
2021 Public Justice Member
AAJ Masters of Trial Law: Champion