Every year, people lose their lives in head-on collisions on Illinois roads. Just recently, a young 17-year-old was killed when he collided head-on with a full-size pickup truck. The truck driver was seriously injured. A couple of weeks ago, a 55-year-old Canton, Illinois, woman was killed when she lost control of her car and ran head-on into a semi-truck. Earlier this year, a young Joliet man pulled into the oncoming lane to pass a car driven by his cousin. Instead, the young man ran head-on into another car, killing himself and the other driver as the cousin watched.
In 2021, the most recent year for state statistics, 1334 people were killed in vehicle crashes on Illinois roads with 116 of those people having died in head-on collisions. This is consistent with national statistics. Approximately 10 percent of all traffic accident fatalities are attributable to head-on collisions even though only 2 percent of vehicle accidents are head-on collisions.
Head-on collisions are the most serious type of vehicle accident there can be. Victims, if they live, often suffer extremely severe injuries. Some are permanently maimed and disfigured. In order to avoid causing a head-on collision, it is important to understand the main causes of such an accident.
Main Causes of Head-On Collisions
The main causes of head-on collisions are:
- Drunk driving: Drunk driving causes approximately 60 percent of all wrong-way crashes. The driver’s reflexes and judgment are impaired as is the ability to calculate distance.
- Drowsy driving: Long-haul truck drivers and night shift workers are often overwhelmed with drowsiness when driving, but drowsy driving can affect anyone. A person may be tired at the end of the work day, coming home from a party, or someone who is just generally sleep-deprived. Reflexes are diminished and the drowsy driver may simply fall asleep at the wheel. Some studies show that drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving.
- Distracted driving: A distracted driver is highly likely to veer into the oncoming lane. It doesn’t take long for that to happen. Examples of distracted driving are texting, talking on a cell phone, fiddling with the radio dial or rear-view mirror, putting on makeup, eating and the list goes on.
- Wrong-way drivers: Drivers may become disoriented and drive onto a highway using the off-ramp instead of the on-ramp. They turn the wrong way on a one-way street. This is more often found in elderly drivers over the age of 70, who is the cause of 15 percent of all head-on collisions.
- Hazardous road conditions: Potholes, road debris, bad lighting, lack of dividing lines, and other road problems can cause a driver to veer out of the correct line into the path of oncoming traffic.
What to do if a Car is Coming Your Way in Your Lane
If you see a vehicle coming toward you in your lane, you do not have much time to act in order to prevent a devastating head-on collision. Safety and Health magazine has published defensive driving tactics that may help you get out of the way of a vehicle speeding toward you in your lane.
- Swerve to the right: Unless there is a horrendous drop-off, you are better off driving off the road than being hit head-on by an oncoming vehicle.
- Always look ahead: If you look more than a couple of hundred feet ahead of you, it is likely you can see the danger coming while there is still time to act.
- Flash your lights: The driver driving toward you is likely drowsy, drunk or disoriented. If you have time to flash your lights a few times, it may be enough to get the driver’s attention and send him or her back into the proper lane.
- Check the reflectors: Be sure you are not the one going the wrong way. If you find you are looking at red reflectors, you are the one going the wrong way and need to get back into your own lane.
- Call 911: If you avoid the oncoming danger, pull over as soon as possible. Call 911 and report what happened. Give as much of a description as possible. Report what kind of vehicle it was, the color, the exact location of where you are, and what direction the driver was traveling.
Strategies to Avoid Head-on Collisions
Head-on collisions are some of the most dangerous types of car accidents, as they often result in serious injuries or fatalities. Here are some strategies you can use to avoid head-on collisions:
- Stay alert - Keep your eyes on the road at all times and avoid distractions such as texting or using your phone while driving.
- Keep a safe distance - Follow other vehicles at a safe distance to give yourself plenty of time to react if a sudden stop or swerve is necessary.
- Stay in your lane - Always drive in the correct lane and do not attempt to pass other vehicles unless it is safe to do so.
- Use your turn signals - Always use your turn signals when changing lanes or turning to let other drivers know your intentions.
- Avoid driving while tired - If you are feeling tired or drowsy, it is important to pull over and rest or to ask someone else to drive.
- Keep your vehicle in good condition - Make sure your tires are properly inflated and that your vehicle is in good mechanical condition to help you avoid accidents.
- Follow traffic laws - Observe the speed limit and all other traffic laws to help reduce your risk of a head-on collision.
By following these strategies, you can reduce your risk of being involved in a head-on collision and increase your chances of arriving at your destination safely.
Wrong-Way Drivers and Head-on Collisions
Driving is dangerous, and wrong-way drivers make it even more so. Wrong-way driving is a serious issue that can lead to fatal head-on collisions. These collisions are more likely to result in fatalities than other types of accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Wrong-way drivers frequently enter the highway via exit ramps or by driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
To avoid being involved in an accident, stay alert and look for signs of reckless or erratic driving. If you see someone driving the wrong way, try to get out of their way as quickly and safely as possible. Always wear your seatbelt and keep your eyes on the road. If either you or a loved one has been injured in a head-on collision caused by a wrong-way driver, contact a trusted car accident attorney like the ones at Blumenshine Law Group to help you navigate the legal process.
Contacting an Attorney
If you or someone you love was injured or killed in a head-on collision we can help deal with the insurance company and get the compensation you deserve, call or text our car accident lawyers at (312)766-1000, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online on our website for a free consultation.