Preventing Head-On Collisions: Tips for Safe Driving on Two-Way Roads

A head-on collision occurs when two vehicles from opposite directions hit each other in the front. It can also happen when a car crashes into an object, such as a pole or road barrier. 

The 2020 Traffic Safety Facts documented 112,729 head-on collisions. It only accounted for two percent of crashes, but they were the most fatal, with more than 3,000 dead.

One fatal case occurred in eastern Arizona, where a head-on crash killed three people. The Department of Public Safety said a sedan crossed the centerline and hit another car, killing its passenger and driver. The sedan’s driver also died at the scene.

A 75-year-old woman suffered life-threatening injuries from a head-on collision in Westminster. Police officers reported four vehicles involved in the incident. According to them, speeding and wrong-way driving may have caused the accident.

Connect with a personal injury lawyer in case of a head-on collision. It would be best for an experienced car accident attorney to represent your interests in negotiations and court trials.

Key Takeaways
  • You can avoid head-on collisions by focusing on the road, following traffic regulations, anticipating road hazards, and maintaining your vehicle.
  • Head-on collisions may result in bodily injuries, mental trauma, and fatalities.
  • A driver may be liable in a head-on crash under the negligence doctrine.

Ways To Avoid Head-On Collisions

Head-on crashes claim thousands of lives, but drivers can prevent these accidents on two-way roadways. Motorists should focus on the road, follow traffic rules, practice defensive driving, and maintain their vehicles.

Stay alert

You should be aware of your surroundings and other vehicles to decrease the likelihood of a head-on collision. For example, look for upcoming hills or curves obstructing your view. It also helps to catch other motorists’ attention by turning your lights on and blowing the horn.

However, you can only check your surroundings if you focus on the road. Thus, it would be best if you avoid distracted driving. These include answering calls, eating, and daydreaming while driving. 

Some states have passed legislation prohibiting distracted driving. For instance, Section 545.4251 of the Texas Transportation Code makes it a misdemeanor to use devices while driving. It imposes a fine of up to $4,000 if it causes another person’s death or injuries. Violators may also suffer imprisonment of up to one year.

Driving under the influence (DUI) can also affect a driver’s attention and decision-making skills. It can lead to slowed thinking and loss of self-control. The NHTSA reported nearly 11,000 deaths due to drunk driving in 2020.

States have also passed legislation regarding impaired driving. Section 1193 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law makes it a crime. It imposes a fine of up to $10,000 on violators and up to seven years of jail time. The law provides a heavier penalty if a car accident results in a fatality.

Drive on the right side

Section 545.051 of the Texas Transportation Code and Section 21650 of the California Vehicle Code instruct motorists to be on the right side of the road. But the law provides exceptions, such as when the driver passes another vehicle on a three-lane highway.

Driving on the wrong side can lead to accidents. For instance, the head-on collision in Westminster led to serious injuries and two fatalities. Police said that wrong-way driving is one of the alleged causes of the incident.

Another instance when a wrong-way driver caused a head-on crash happened in Saratoga Springs, New York. The incident resulted in non-life-threatening injuries to another driver. The at-fault driver faces charges of violating traffic laws and second-degree reckless endangerment.

Maintain safe speed and distance

Drivers can control their vehicles better if they follow speed limits. Moreover, they can stop without causing injuries if they maintain the proper distance from other vehicles. These traffic rules can help prevent car crashes, including head-on collisions.

State limits vary from each state. For instance, Section 316.183 of the Florida Statutes provides a speed limit of 30 mph in residential districts and 55 mph in other areas. However, a county or municipality may impose a speed limit of up to 25 mph on local streets.

Article 8, Chapter 8 of the Virginia Code lists the speed limit drivers must obey in different scenarios. School buses shall travel not exceeding 45 mph. Motorists who drive in business and residence districts must follow the speed limit of 25 mph.

Section 545.062 of the Texas Transportation Code and Section 42-4-1008 of the Colorado Revised Statutes mandate a safe following distance. You must consider several factors, including the other vehicles’ speed and highway conditions.

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Safely pass other vehicles

Improper passing is one of the common causes of head-on crashes. However, suppose a motorist cannot see the oncoming traffic. In that case, they may collide directly with another vehicle from the opposite direction. Another dangerous incident involves overtaking another car in a no-passing area.

Section 545.052 of the Texas Transportation Code provides guidelines on driving past vehicles moving in another direction. Similar mandates are in Section 28-722 of the Arizona Revised Statutes and Section 40-6-41 of the Georgia Code. Under these laws, a motor vehicle operator should move to the right and give the other driver at least half the road’s main traveled portion.

Driving to the right of your lane can help you avoid a driver going the wrong way. For example, suppose someone overtakes on a two-way street but doesn’t make it. There is enough space between you and oncoming traffic for the driver to squeeze through. 

Anticipate potential road hazards

You should put your full attention on the road to detect road hazards. These include potholes, parked vehicles, and closed lanes. Another example involves a motorist driving in the wrong direction. When you encounter such a driver, pull your vehicle over in a safe place.

You must also note the times and places needing your utmost care. Drive more vigilantly during rush hour since drivers take more risks. They might be hurrying to go to work or arrive home. Unfortunately, being impatient can lead to bad driving.

Another area that presents road hazards is a school zone. Children may cross the road unexpectedly, causing you to swerve and hit a stationary object, resulting in a head-on collision. Being more careful when driving in a school zone would be best.

Maintain your vehicle

Aside from following traffic rules, you should also maintain your vehicle. For example, clean your car’s lights to prevent a foggy headlight. It may affect visibility, especially when driving at night. You may use a restoration kit to sand and wax the headlight coverings. If they are beyond cleaning, you might need to replace them.

Having worn brake pads can reduce control of the vehicle. You can prevent a head-on car accident by checking your brakes regularly, especially if you are not using your vehicle daily. Rust may build up and cause increased noise and vibration.

Underinflated tires can also cause problems. It can lead to overheating or tire blowouts. On the other hand, overinflated tires reduce traction. Accidents arising from these issues can lead to different injuries and wrongful death.

Effects of Head-On Crashes

Head-on collisions can cause bodily injuries, emotional trauma, and fatalities like other vehicle accidents. In Cabell County, a head-on crash involving two vehicles led to the death of one person and injured six others. 

Bodily injuries

Head-on accident victims usually suffer from whiplash, a neck injury. It usually occurs due to sudden movements that strain your neck and spine. Its symptoms include stiffness, tenderness, spasms, and headaches. Doctors treat whiplash by performing surgery or therapy.

Other injuries include lacerations and broken bones due to the impact. For instance, the truck driver in the Cabell County accident sustained a fractured leg. According to officials, the other vehicle’s driver may have been driving under the influence.

Patients with bone fractures typically experience pain, swelling, discoloration, and tenderness. Mild fractures may need splints, while severe breaks may require realignment surgery. Doctors might also perform bone grafting in case of severely displaced fractures.

Spinal cord injury is also common among vehicle accident victims. Patients may experience decreased sensation, loss of bladder control, and weakness. Some victims may become paralyzed. The treatment options for a spinal cord injury include surgery and rehabilitation therapy.

In Graysville, Tennessee, a 17-year-old boy allegedly overcorrected his driving, resulting in an accident with a Honda Pilot. As a result, a passenger was paralyzed from the mid-chest down. The other victims suffered from internal bleeding, sprain, and a perforated lung.

A head-on crash may also result in traumatic brain injury (TBI), like a concussion. People with mild TBI may experience headaches and dizziness. Those with severe head injuries may suffer from seizures, loss of coordination, and inability to wake. TBI treatment includes surgery, medications, and rehabilitation, like spinal cord injuries.

Mental trauma

Aside from physical injuries, victims may suffer from mental health issues. These include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and mood swings. Victims’ families may also experience emotional trauma, especially if their loved one dies from a head-on collision.

PTSD can develop after a life-threatening event, such as an accident or natural disaster. People with PTSD may have difficulty doing daily tasks like eating and sleeping.

Auto accident victims may also feel depressed and anxious. It involves a constant feeling of sadness and hopelessness. They may also experience insomnia due to recurring flashbacks of the accident. Fortunately, depression and anxiety can be treated with psychotherapy and medication.


Thousands of people have died due to head-on collisions. In May 2014, the family of a 73-year-old woman and her granddaughter filed a case against General Motors regarding defective airbags. According to the family, the Chevy Cobalt’s occupants wore seatbelts, but the airbags did not deploy.

Another fatal head-on crash occurred in Mississippi, killing eight people. The collision involved two vehicles, a Penske truck and a passenger van. The van driver sustained head injuries, but none of his passengers survived.

A two-vehicle crash on Parks Highway, Alaska, resulted in one fatality, a passenger in the southbound car. The car driver sustained life-threatening injuries, and the pickup’s occupants were also taken to the hospital.

These news reports show that a head-on collision often results in loss of life. Hence, drivers should take extra caution and follow preventive tips to avoid this accident.

Who is at fault in a head-on auto collision?

Your personal injury lawyer may establish the at-fault driver’s liability through negligence. Under this doctrine, the defendant must have a legal duty to the plaintiff. Moreover, the plaintiff suffered an injury due to the defendant’s breach of obligation. You must also prove the connection between the breach and injury.

In your personal injury claim, you can prove the violation of duty through police reports and witness testimonies. For example, bystanders may testify that they saw the at-fault driver traveling at high speed when they hit your car.

Moreover, you can establish the presence of injury through medical expenses for medications, surgery, and physical rehabilitation. Compile your medical bills because you can use them to prove the total damages you must receive. In case of wrongful death, families must keep a copy of the funeral service invoice.

Did you know?

In 2020, more than 53,000 head-on collisions resulted in property damage only. They accounted for 1.5 percent of the total property damage-only cases.

Receive Compensation After a Head-On Collision

Head-on collisions can be deadly and costly, and most are preventable. These tips can help if everyone follows them. Unfortunately, many drivers continue to act negligently or recklessly. You can get compensation for your losses if you are a victim of a negligent head-on collision.

Contact a personal injury lawyer following an auto accident. If you do not know where to look for an attorney, visit The Personal Injury Center. We can match you with a reputable car accident lawyer to provide legal advice and representation. 

A head-on collision is one of the deadliest types of car accidents. Visit The Personal Injury Center to take proactive steps after a road crash. Avail of our free consultation today!

FAQs on Head-On Collisions

Rear-end collisions ranked first, with 1,457,155 incidents in 2020. It accounted for 27.8 percent of the total number of collisions with a moving vehicle.

Talk to your lawyer first before signing a medical records release. The insurance company may use them to reduce their payout in a head-on collision settlement. For example, they may argue that your injuries are less severe than you claim.

You may still recover medical and other expenses if you have an uninsured motorist policy. This coverage protects you if an uninsured motorist hits you.