When a person is involved in a head-on collision, they are at risk of being killed more so than any other type of car crash. According to study from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, head-on crashes only make up 2 percent of all crashes in the U.S. but make up over 10 percent of all fatalities. This puts the head-on collision as the deadliest type of crash.
Why are Head-On Collisions So Dangerous?
There are several reasons, with the first being the nature of a head-on crash itself. In most typical two-car crashes, one vehicle hits another, and the impact consists of the momentum and mass of the vehicle hitting the other such as a rear-end crash or a T-bone collision.
However, in a head-on, the impact is made of the mass and momentum of two vehicles both hitting each other going the opposite direction. All of the energy of both vehicles comprises the impact.
Second, most head-on collisions occur on rural highways or divided freeways were the speed limit is above 50 mph and sometimes as high as 70. The impact of two cars going 55 mph is the same as if a car hit a wall going 110 mph.
Finally, in many head-on collisions, there is a secondary crash as the cars hit each other with some flipping over and others get knocked into other cars causing even more collisions. This means that some cars are impacted more than once creating even more risk of injury and death.
Centerline Drift Head-On Collisions
In a centerline drift accident, a driver inexplicably crosses the centerline of a non-divided highway right into oncoming traffic. In these accidents, the driver traveling on the proper side of the road has no time to react and act defensively. This is because only a few feet separate the cars going at high rates of speed in the opposite direction. One distracted moment, or a drowsy head-nod, and the cars collide.
In March of 2019, a Cheney, Washington man lost his life in a tragic head-on, centerline drift head-on collision. According to the Washington State Patrol, the man was traveling in the westbound lanes of Highway 905 near 5th Street—about five miles east of Cheney—when he crossed the centerline hitting the side of one car and hitting another head-on.
A 21-year-old woman was driving the second car, and she was taken to a local hospital in serious condition, and the driver of the other car was uninjured. This crash shows how simple it can be to cross over a centerline and in just a moment of time and a few feet of space, tragically change the lives of many people.
Though we don’t know why the driver of this car crossed over the centerline, this type of centerline drift accident is very common and makes up 85 percent of all head-on collisions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the top reasons why people drift are:
- Drowsy Driving
- Distracted Driving
- Impaired Driving
- Road Conditions
- Equipment Failure
Wrong Way Driving (WWD) Head-On Collisions
Another type of head-on collision is called the wrong way driving collision. Technically, in all head-on collisions someone is driving the wrong way. However, in WWD crashes, one driver has entered a divided, multi-lane highway or freeway going the wrong direction. Many times, the person doing so doesn’t realize they are going the wrong way until it’s too late.
The mistake isn’t usually made by drifting over a centerline, but by entering the highway on an offramp or exit instead of a proper entrance. WWD crashes make up around 15 percent of all head-on collisions leaving around 85 percent to centerline crossing or drift head-on collisions.
The number one reason is impairment. Sixty percent of all WWD fatalities happen because an impaired driver was going the wrong way. This makes sense because the mistake is made when the driver enters the freeway the wrong way, and there are usually WRONG WAY signs that attempt to keep people from entering an exit. Other causes are:
- Alcohol and Drug Impairment (worth saying again)
- Poor Visibility/Bad Weather/Nighttime
- Poor/Confusing Signage
- Age of Driver
Unfortunately, Spokane residents have seen their share of WWD injuries and deaths as well. In 2009, three people from Spokane lost their lives in a WWD crash involving alcohol. On December 17, 2009, a wrong-way driver was going 90 mph up the on-ramp from US 2 to the eastbound lanes of I-90 when he slammed into a car with two occupants killing all three. The man had just came from a night of drinking at a local bar a few moments before the crash, he blew past a DUI checkpoint at a high rate of speed.
In this accident, alcohol not only played a factor in driving the wrong way, but it also contributed to the driver’s speed and recklessness.
Common Injuries With Head-On Collisions
The high impact and secondary impacts (rollovers, etc) make severe injuries a high probability—even if everyone is seat-belted in. Because of this, there are common injuries associated with a head-on collision:
- Blunt Force Trauma
- Head Injuries/Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Internal Injuries/Bleeding
- Air bag injuries
Losses and Damages that Come from Head-On Collisions
Scores of Spokane drivers have been injured in car accidents over the years, and they know just how frustrating it is to be injured by someone else’s negligence and carelessness. As if the hospital stay, the medical treatment and the rehabilitation weren’t enough to cope with, Spokane injury victims also have to deal with the financial losses that come with accidents.
Victims of a head-on or other type of car accident are met with extra medical bills as they try to meet their deductible and pay all their co-pays. Then there are the costs of traveling to all the medical appointments, and of course, the missed time from work.
This is why Washington law allows certain damages to be collected as compensation from the person who caused the accident. The idea is to make the person whole again, and since this can’t always be done, then the courts will award the victim compensation in the form of money.
Head-on collisions have their own dynamics and thus some damages that are common to these types of crashes: Medical Bills
- Lost wages, past and future
- Permanent injuries/disabilities or disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a quality of life/consortium
- Wrongful Death compensation
- Emotional distress
Contact a Spokane Car Accident Lawyer
While money alone does not put make the person whole again, struggling with the physical and emotional aspects of a traumatic accident is made more difficult as the financial losses add up creating more anxiety and stress. Many victims of these accidents wonder if they need to get an attorney. In most cases, the answer is yes. You need to understand your rights and what you are entitled to under the law so you can make the best decision.
Contact a Spokane Car Accident Lawyer who has the knowledge and experience needed to help people in Spokane and the surrounding communities get the compensation they deserve when they are injured by someone else.