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Where Are Head-On Collisions More Likely To Occur?

Published on Apr 14, 2022 at 1:36 pm in Car Accidents.

Crushed headlight

When you think of crashes, you might fear becoming involved in almost any type. A head-on collision is what 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 Louisville car accident lawyer 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 Thomas Law Offices car accident attorneys can go over the elements you must establish to prove liability in such cases here in Louisville.

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.

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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.

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