What Should I Know About Head-On Collisions?

What Should I Know About Head-On Collisions? Head-on collisions are the most dangerous car accidents, often leading to severe and catastrophic injuries. In many cases, the impact of the crash is severe enough to cause a fatal injury. For those who survive these accidents, the repercussions can last a lifetime.

Head-on collisions are a type of car accident when two vehicles heading in opposite directions collide with each other. What makes these types of crashes so dangerous is that the full force of the crash is directly applied to the occupants in the front seats. While we have seatbelts and airbags, they only protect us from so much, and if you are traveling fast enough, they might not offer enough protection to keep you from suffering from a severe injury. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s data for 2019, there were 1,996 wrong side/wrong way crashes – the leading causes of head-on collisions – resulting in 99 fatalities and 1,378 injuries.

What are the main causes of head-on collisions?

  • Driving the wrong way. Wrong-way crashes are a leading cause of head-on collisions, according to the AAA Foundation for Safety. These collisions often occur on highway ramps, on one-way streets, and in parking lots.
  • Impaired driving. Impaired driving (whether that’s from drinking or abusing other substances) is the primary cause in nearly 50% of all car accidents. Driving under the influence significantly reduces one’s critical thinking,motor skills and reaction times. An impaired driver is prone to stop abruptly, drive the wrong way, fall asleep behind the wheel, or execute other dangerous behaviors.
  • Distracted driving. A driver who is distracted by their phone, their passengers, or something interesting on the road (like a car crash) is more likely to miss important road signs or to run a red light. This can also lead to a head-on collision.
  • Low visibility. Not all head-on collisions are a result of reckless behavior. In some cases, poor weather may make it hard to see upcoming signs, and the design of the road itself might be dangerous. For example, two drivers coming around a blind curve may hit in the middle if either one of them moves even slightly toward the center line. Or, if a road crew fails to put up appropriate signage regarding changes in direction or lanes, it could lead to a head-on crash between drivers maneuvering around the traffic.
  • Older drivers, per the AAA Foundation, are more likely to drive the wrong way on a road. They may also be more likely to experience pedal confusion, leading to an increased chance of a collision with a stationary object, or struggle to move their feet from the gas to the brake and back, meaning they may be unable to avoid getting hit by another car.

What are the most common injuries from head-on collisions?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “found that a head-on crash between two similar vehicles traveling at the same speed would result in severe brain and neck injury and likely result in leg fractures.” The NHTSA also reported a “58% fatality rate for vehicle occupants in frontal impact crashes in 2017. A head-on crash is more likely in a rural area, and 13% of all rural fatal crashes are head-ons. In urban areas, fewer than 7% of fatal crashes are head-ons.”

Common injuries resulting from head-on accidents include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury: At the site of the crash, victims may suffer a concussion or injury, requiring immediate medical care. Others may not realize they need medical attention right away, until later when their symptoms become more noticeable to them or their loved ones. Symptoms include: loss of consciousness ranging from several minutes to hours, a persistent headache or worsening headache, nausea and vomiting, seizures, sleep disturbances, weakness in fingers or toes, and a loss of coordination.
  • Spinal Cord Injury: Spinal cord injuries (SCIS) cause severe pain and often long-lasting disability. In many head-on collisions, the victim may suffer partial or full paralysis. There are two types of SCIs: Complete and incomplete. A complete SCI means that the spinal cord is fully severed. An incomplete SCI means that only part of the spinal cord is severed. Many SCI patients can never return to the work or hobbies that they held before the accident. Most SCI victims face a lifetime of complications and require extensive medical care to get by.
  • Whiplash: Whiplash occurs when the head whips back to front or vice versa. This can cause significant trauma to the neck, but it can also lead to TBI. Some victims experience permanent nerve damage. Those who have been in a car accident may not notice that they have whiplash until later.
  • Amputation: A car crash, especially a devastating one such as a head-on collision can literally sever a body part, or cause such extreme damage that the victim needs to undergo an amputation.

Head-on collisions are the most dangerous category of crash we can get into, often leading to catastrophic injuries. These types of accidents are the ones we want to avoid the most. At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we hold negligent drivers accountable if you have been injured in a head-on collision. Call 816-471-5111 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation at our office in Kansas City, MO. We also maintain offices in Lee’s Summit, Parkville, and St. Joseph, MO and in Olathe and Overland Park, KS.