The Lethality of Head-on Auto Crashes… and the Driving Errors that Lead to These Dangerous Accidents

The Lethality of Head-on Auto Crashes… and the Driving Errors that Lead to These Dangerous Accidents

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) statistics show that head-on crashes are among the most damaging varieties of collision. More than 1 in 10 fatal collisions is a head-on accident, leading to more than 3,600 deaths in 2020, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Too often, these accidents are the result of a driver who was negligent behind the wheel, such as driving distracted, driving while drowsy or asleep, driving drunk or high, or unsafely overtaking (passing) a slower vehicle. When your injury comes from a head-on crash, you need a skilled Santa Barbara car accident lawyer on your side to get to the bottom of what happened and to ensure that you get all the compensation to which the law says you are entitled.  

Basic physics tells us these crashes are especially dangerous. If a car going 40 mph hits a fixed object (like a tree,) it hits with the force the car exerts on the tree. If two cars each going 40 mph hit each other head-on, the vehicles in that crash are impacted by the force exerted by the two cars combined.    

The Lethality of Head-on Auto Crashes… and the Driving Errors that Lead to These Dangerous Accidents

Southern California is no stranger to these accidents. Recently, a head-on crash near Los Alamos left one man dead and four others injured. Reportedly, a southbound vehicle crossed into the northbound lanes of Highway 101 and slammed into a pickup truck head-on.

Last month, the scene was Highway 135, where two vehicles collided head-on at an intersection just north of Orcutt. In that case, no one was killed, but both drivers required transportation via ambulance to a local hospital in Santa Maria.   

According to the numbers, each of these crashes was unusual in certain ways. The recent fatal collision occurred in an area where Highway 101 is a four-lane divided highway. Statistics from the FHWA say that 85% of fatal head-on accidents occur on undivided highways. Additionally, most head-on crashes occur on open roads in rural areas, unlike the location of the Highway 135 crash at an intersection south of Santa Maria.

As noted above, many of these accidents are the result of someone driving negligently. This may mean a driver driving while intoxicated, driving while fatigued, or driving while distracted

Another frequent factor is driver impatience or aggressiveness, which leads that person to execute an unsafe passing maneuver (on a two-lane road) where they lacked a sufficiently clear view of the path ahead (including passing in “no passing” zones) or simply misjudged the space and thought they could “beat” the closure of the available gap. Making these errors while passing a semi or other large truck is particularly dangerous, as these maneuvers allow the passing driver little opportunity to “fall back” behind the truck if they belatedly realize they have made a mistake.

Head-on Crashes with Multiple Responsible Parties

Auto Accident Lawyer

Sometimes, though, the fault doesn’t belong totally with the driver. For example, if a driver lost control and crossed the centerline of a road while navigating a sharp curve that was unmarked (or improperly marked,) the entity responsible for that road or highway may bear some of the legal responsibility for that head-on crash.

All of these hypotheticals point to the importance of retaining experienced legal counsel. The right legal team can ensure your crash undergoes a complete investigation. That step is critical to making many crucial subsequent decisions, including whether or not to sue parties beyond just the driver, what damages to seek, and whether or not your case might benefit from the use of experts (and, if so, what type.) The diligent and aggressive Santa Barbara auto accident attorneys at the law firm of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP have many decades of experience handling these cases, assisting clients from the earliest investigatory stages all the way to resolution to ensure each client gets a fair result. Contact us at 805-617-1365 or through our website to get a free case consultation today.


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