All types of traffic collisions have the potential to become deadly, but head-on collisions are especially devastating, due to the multiplicative impact derived from the speed of both cars. Fortunately, this is also a type of accident that’s largely preventable, even if you’re not the one driving the wrong way.
How do you minimize your chances of being involved in this type of collision?
Car Accidents Aren’t Always Preventable
First, understand that car accidents aren’t always preventable. While the vast majority of car accidents are attributable to human error, you can only control one vehicle on the road: yours. You can’t make decisions for other drivers, you can’t control other drivers, and you can’t control the road conditions. Accordingly, you need to make safety a priority in your own life by buying the safest vehicle you can afford, wearing your seatbelt at all times, and enabling airbags for your protection.
You should also be prepared for what to do if you’re involved in a car accident. After a car accident, do your best to remain calm. The most important steps to take in the aftermath are getting to safety, calling for help, filing a police report, gathering evidence, and contacting a car accident lawyer. Your lawyer can help you figure out what to do next.
Practice Attentive, Responsible Driving
The easiest way to prevent head-on collisions is to practice responsible driving.
- Obey the speed limit. It’s important to obey the posted speed limit, no matter where you are. Speed limits are there to increase safety for everyone on the road, including you. Driving at a slower speed means you’ll have much more time to react to someone driving erratically, and if you are in a collision, the impact is going to be greatly reduced if you’re traveling at a low enough speed.
- Follow posted signage. Traffic and city planning authorities know how dangerous head-on collisions can be, so they use obvious, impossible to miss signs to indicate when you’re traveling in the wrong direction. If you’re going the wrong way down a one-way street, there will be many, bright red signs indicating the problem so that you can correct it. Otherwise, you’ll need to be attentive to the center line and avoid straying to the left of it.
- Be aware of your surroundings. You should be aware of your surroundings at all times. With enough situational awareness, you should be able to detect errant drivers before they collide with you, so you can take evasive action.
- Avoid distractions. Distracted driving is a major problem, and a cause of many head-on collisions. Minimize distractions by keeping your smartphone out of reach, using touchless technology (or no technology at all), and avoiding multitasking.
- Stay clear-headed. Similarly, you should be clear-headed while driving. That means remaining sober, free of intoxicating substances, and sufficiently rested. If you feel especially fatigued or tired, take a nap before heading back on the road.
React to Oncoming Vehicles
Even if you’re a perfect driver, you should still be aware of the possibility that other drivers can mistakenly drive in your lane.
If you notice another driver coming toward you:
- Understand high risk areas. Some areas are riskier than others when it comes to head-on collisions. One-way streets, areas with low visibility, and areas with ambiguous markings are especially dangerous, so be alert when driving in these locations.
- Slow down. Immediately let off the gas and press the brake pedal to slow your car down. This should give you more time to react, even if it’s not much, and more importantly, it will reduce the impact of a collision, should one occur.
- Provide warnings. Depending on how far away the vehicle is and how fast it’s traveling, you may be in a position to provide warnings. Flash your headlights at the other driver and sound the horn to alert them that they’re traveling in the wrong direction and/or are in the wrong lane. Hopefully, they’ll be able to correct the problem. If not, you’ll need to take evasive action.
- Steer to the right. Steer to the right of the oncoming driver, and never steer to the left. This will minimize the chances of colliding with another driver.
- Be ready to drive off road. Many drivers are hesitant to drive off the road, especially if it means driving into a ditch. But driving into a ditch, or even into a stationary object like a tree or a telephone pole is much better than driving into another car headed in your direction.
It’s impossible to reduce the head-on collision rate to zero, but with the preceding strategies, you should be in a much better position to avoid or mitigate the damage from these types of crashes. If you are a victim of a head-on collision, contact a lawyer after attending to your medical needs to see what your next options are.