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Important facts about head-on collisions

Even though motorists are educated and trained to drive safely and added technology in vehicles is supposed to make traveling in motor vehicles safer, this doesn't save travelers in Montana and elsewhere from negligent drivers. While our awareness of safety concerns is heightened, this doesn't stop drivers from engaging in distracting activities while driving, driving while fatigued or even drunk driving. Such actions make it difficult to drive and could be the cause of a car colliding head on with an unsuspecting motorist.

A head-on collision usually occurs when a vehicle crosses the centerline of a road or a median then crashes into an approaching vehicle. Another way for this type of car crash to occur is when a motorist knowingly or unknowingly enters the wrong way of traffic. A head-on collision could result from this inadvertent action or deliberate action, such as when a driver attempts to execute a passing maneuver on a two-lane road.

Based on statistics from the Fatal Analysis Reporting system, 18 percent of fatal automobile crashes not occurring in an interchange or junction were two-vehicle head-on collisions. This data also revealed that 75 percent of these crashes occurred on rural roads, 75 percent occurred on undivided two-lane roads and 83 percent of two-lane undivided road collisions occurred on rural roads. The high rate of head-on collisions occurring on rural roads that are two-lanes and undivided suggests that these crashes occurred due to a failed passing maneuver.

In addition to failed passing attempts, there are other negligent acts that result in head-on collisions. This includes falling asleep while driving, drunk driving, distracted driving or driving too fast. In some cases, multiple factors could play a role, such as when a driver is unable to negotiate a curve, the driver is not focusing on the road or if the driver is intoxicated. This could cause a vehicle to travel into the other lane and into the path of an approaching vehicle.

The aftermath of a head-on collision could result in serious injuries or even fatalities. Victims are often left to suffer physical, mental and financial hardships. In these matters, it is important that victims understand the cause and liability for the collision. This could help them hold a negligent driver accountable and recover compensation in a personal injury claim.

Source:, "Head-On Collisions," accessed April 1, 2017

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