Almost nothing can be as terrifying as seeing another vehicle drive directly toward you in your lane.
Often, such situations result in a head-on collision, in which the front ends of two vehicles collide. Even with standard safety features such as bumpers, crumple zones, seat belts, and airbags, head-on crashes can have devastating effects and can leave victims with life-threatening injuries as the speed of the injury is often multiplied by a factor of two.
Over the summer in Philadelphia, one head-on accident proved just how dangerous this type of collision can be. According to reports, at about 7:00 a.m., a driver was traveling northbound on I-95 - except he was in a southbound lane. The error resulted in a head-on crash with a southbound vehicle, which resulted in the death of the wrong-way driver, as well as a passenger in the other vehicle. The other driver and passengers received treatment for injuries at a nearby hospital.
The above is only one example of how dangerous head-on crashes can be. It is important to be aware of the common causes of these accidents - not only to avoid them whenever possible, but also so you can be aware of your rights following an accident and injuries. Following a crash, you should always speak with a skilled car accident attorney who can help you identify your options for seeking compensation.
Common Reasons Behind Head-On Crashes
There are many different potential causes of head-on collisions, many of which involve the negligence of other drivers or parties. When someone else acted negligently and you suffered injuries or tragically lost a loved one, the negligent party should be held fully liable for all of your financial and intangible losses.
The following are some examples of negligence that can lead to head-on crashes:
Drunk or drugged driving is a leading cause of wrong-way driving, which commonly results in a severe crash. Impaired drivers may make a wrong turn and end up driving directly into oncoming traffic. Additionally, a drunk driver may swerve out of their designated lane, and if they swerve to the left side, they may cross over into oncoming lanes.
While a swerving car can certainly be a sign of a drunk driver, it can also be a sign of a distracted driver. When a driver is looking down at a phone or otherwise away from the road, they lose concentration on staying in their own lane. A distracted driver may drift across a double yellow line themselves, or they may run another car out of their intended lane.
Fatigued drivers often lose focus on the road, and they may drift into another lane, possibly into oncoming traffic. Furthermore, when a driver is extremely fatigued, they may fall asleep while they are behind the wheel. At this point, a driver can lose complete control of the car, often unknowingly shifting the wheel to turn the car into other lanes.
When you see a double yellow line on a two-lane highway, you should know that means it is too dangerous to pass a car on the left due to limited visibility of oncoming traffic. However, you would be surprised at the number of drivers who risk their lives - and the lives of others - because they cannot wait to pass a car. Illegal passing can often result in a situation in which the two drivers cannot then avoid a head-on collision.
Statistics indicate that head-on collisions are more prevalent on rural roads than on urban roads. Many factors may contribute to the increase of rural head-on crashes, including curvy and hilly roads with limited visibility, speeding drivers (especially on curves), narrow lanes, regular passing of other vehicles, lack of police enforcement, increased drunk driving, lack of street lights, and more. These statistics should not deter from the risks of urban head-on crashes, however, as these deadly accidents regularly happen in the city, as well.
Dangerous road hazards
Sometimes, a driver can lose control and veer into oncoming traffic lanes because they hit a hazard in the roadway. Such hazards can include large cracks or potholes, objects or debris in the roadway, lane markings that are too narrow, and more. Additionally, roads with dangerous designs or speed limits that are too high can also cause a driver to lose control and crash head-on.
Third party or “phantom” drivers
In some situations, the driver who causes a head-on collision will not actually crash their own vehicle. Instead, a driver who is distracted, fatigued, drunk, or otherwise careless may run a car in the left-hand lane off the road, causing them to swerve into oncoming traffic. Sometimes, the negligent driver will realize they caused an accident and will stop. However, in other cases, that driver may not even notice or may keep driving to avoid getting into trouble. These are called “phantom drivers,” and such accidents can require you to file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. If another driver caused your crash - even if they kept driving away - you should always seek the medical attention you need as soon as possible, as your injuries can be severe. Your next step should be to contact an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your rights. You should also contact a dedicated attorney in the tragic event that you lost a loved one in a head-on crash, as we can advise you of your right to file a wrongful death claim under Pennsylvania law.
Discuss a Possible Case with an Experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney Today
At Philly Injury Law, we have witnessed how devastating car accidents can be, especially head-on collisions. We know that complex legal cases can follow these accidents, and we believe that you and your family do not need any additional stress in this already difficult time. This is why car accident lawyer Joel Kofsky handles every step of each case for his clients, providing legal representation they can trust while they focus on their physical recovery. If you sustained injuries in any type of car crash, please call 215-735-4800 for help right away or contact us online to tell us about your situation.