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How dangerous are head-on car accidents?

While driving a car may seem simple enough, Washington state law requires that a driver adhere to certain rules while on the road. One of these rules is that drivers must stay on their side of the roadway, except when passing. In any case, passing should only be done when it is completely safe to do so.

Many drivers fail to adhere to this rule and veer into the other lane without checking for oncoming traffic. This can have devastating consequences. In a recent car crash discussed in this blog, two people were killed when a driver tried to pass a turning truck and crashed head-on into another car.

Head-on collisions are extremely dangerous. They often occur when one driver crosses the centerline and into oncoming traffic. These accidents often occur on rural roadways and undivided two-lane highways. In fact, 83 percent of fatal head-on accidents occurred on undivided, rural roadways.

However, it is relatively rare for a car that is trying to pass another to actually cause a head-on accident. Data shows that these types of "passing" accidents only occurred in about 4.2 percent of head-on accidents. Most of the time, head-on accident are caused by the unintentional behavior of a reckless driver. These drivers may fall asleep at the wheel and veer into the opposite lane, they may be under the influence or they may lose control over their vehicle. Speeding around a curve and otherwise being distracted can also cause a head-on accident.

When a reckless or negligent driver causes a car accident, that driver can be held legally responsible for any injuries that result. This includes the victim's medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages. A personal injury lawsuit can ease the financial burden caused by an accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide answers for people in this situation.

Source: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and TRB, "Head-On Collisions: Executive Summary," accessed July 15, 2015

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