Where Do Broadside Collisions Most Commonly Occur?By Stewart J. Guss on March 11th, 2020
A typical broadside collision, also called a T-bone accident, is INCREDIBLY VIOLENT. The front of one vehicle slams into the side of another vehicle with extreme force, causing devastating injuries; brain trauma, spinal cord damage, internal bleeding…the list goes on and on. Not to mention that T-bones have some of the highest rates of fatalities of any type of motor vehicle accident. Bottom line: broadside collisions are BAD NEWS.
These kinds of traffic accidents can occur just about anywhere on a road, but some road locations are SEVERE DANGER ZONES for getting into one. Do you know the common hot spots for broadside collisions?
1. Intersections, Intersections, Intersections
A HUGE chunk of all broadside collisions happens at intersections. That’s probably no surprise. They’re the MOST COMMON place on the road where traffic crosses at right angles. All it takes for a T-bone crash to happen at an intersection is one driver making a boneheaded mistake by entering an intersection when he isn’t supposed to and…BAM! That is why road engineers spend HOURS AND HOURS studying intersections, trying to make them safer. Unfortunately, even brilliant engineering can’t stop every broadside collision from happening at a crossing. Here is how a lot of those accidents unfold:
1. Red Light Accidents
Red light means STOP. Even kindergarteners know that. Still, sometimes drivers ignore red lights. Why? TAKE YOUR PICK. Sometimes, drivers are in a hurry and think they can beat the yellow. Sometimes they have a few too many at the bar and make the DISASTROUS decision to get behind the wheel. Sometimes they speed. Sometimes they don’t see the red. I could keep going, but you get the point. Driving through a red light means crossing paths with traffic driving through a green light, which means an EXTREME DANGER OF A T-BONE CRASH.
2. Stop Signs
I’m a polite driver, so when I come to a four way stop where there’s another car about to cross, I follow the rule that the vehicle on the left always yields to the vehicle on the right if we get there at the same time. Or, I just WAIT and let the other car go. Unfortunately, some drivers fail to yield when they’re supposed to. Others roll through stop signs without looking. No matter what, THOSE ARE BAD DECISIONS.
3. Intersections Without Traffic Signals
No traffic signs or signals at an intersection? BE CAREFUL. Slow down, look both ways, if other cars are there let the car that got there first, go first. An intersection with no signal is, in my humble opinion, POORLY DESIGNED and a hazard to the public. T-bone accidents happen whenever drivers have to GUESS at what other drivers will do, without any help from traffic control devices.
2. Short On-Ramps
Know what’s another place where broadside collisions happen? SHORT ON-RAMPS onto busy highways. Drivers sometimes struggle to merge smoothly into traffic under even the best of circumstances. Things get REALLY UGLY when these drivers swerve into a traffic lane because they’ve run out of on-ramp, exposing the sides of their cars to getting T-boned at HIGH SPEED by a vehicle in the travel lane.
3. Multi-Lane Roadways
The more lanes of traffic you have on a road, THE BIGGER THE CHANCE broadside collisions will happen. The thing is, when it comes to driving on these roads, it’s not like you have a choice in the matter. Drivers may need to change lanes to enter and exit. On unfamiliar roads, drivers sometimes shoot across multiple lanes. GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? That’s right, a broadside collision that easily causes secondary accidents, catastrophic injuries and tragic fatalities.
4. Left Turns Across Oncoming Traffic
Drivers making a left turn across oncoming traffic must pay careful attention to any vehicle approaching in the opposing lane. Seems easy enough, right? WRONG. Drivers frequently misjudge the speed of oncoming vehicles and the amount of them available to turn across their paths. Drivers also occasionally suffer from a FORM OF BLINDNESS that makes them not perceive vehicles they do not expect to see approaching (especially motorcycles). Drivers of the oncoming vehicles have no time to stop, and the result is a disastrous broadside collision.
Factors That Boost Broadside Collision Risk
Look, here’s the truth of it: you risk a broadside collision whenever you drive through an intersection. The only way to eliminate the risk altogether is to never drive or ride in any motor vehicle (and, I know, that’s not realistic).
That said, some factors that make it WAY more probable you will get into a broadside accident. Let’s look at a few.
1. Distracted drivers.
In one recent year alone, distracted driving claimed more than 3,000 lives on U.S. roads. NO DOUBT, many of those fatalities occurred in broadside collisions. Distracted drivers TOTALLY LOSE TRACK of the road and its dangers when their minds wander to whatever distracts them. Guess where that happens ALL OF THE TIME? I’ll give you a hint: it’s a place on the road where traffic crosses, and where drivers seem to think they can sneak just a quick peek at their cell phones. Now I’ll give you a clearer hint: intersections. Distraction happens CONSTANTLY at intersections, and it leads to drivers pulling out into oncoming traffic and causing a nasty T-bone crash.
2. Poor visibility.
In low-visibility conditions, drivers CANNOT SEE road hazards, street signs, and other vehicles. Fog, rain, and snow obviously reduce visibility, but so does glare DIRECTLY in drivers’ eyes at sunrise and sunset. In low-visibility conditions, ALL DRIVERS SHOULD SLOW DOWN to give themselves some leeway to see hazards and to avoid a catastrophic broadside collision.
3. Drunk and drugged drivers.
- LOSE CONTROL of their vehicles;
- Make TERRIBLE DECISIONS; and
- FAIL TO RESPOND quickly-enough to road hazards.
Drivers have no excuse for getting behind the wheel while drunk or high. If they cause an accident, they will likely SPEND TIME IN JAIL. Even that form of punishment, however, comes as cold comfort to victims of broadside collisions caused by the RECKLESS AND CRIMINAL actions of drunk and drugged drivers.
For every one percent increase in speed, your risk of an accident increases by TWICE AS MUCH, and the risk of a serious injury rises by THREE TIMES AS MUCH if an accident happens. Speeding causes an untold number of T-bone crashes every year. The cruel irony of that fact is that the driver of the speeding vehicle that collides with the side of another vehicle usually comes away from that accident with FAR FEWER injuries than the occupants of the other vehicle.
5. Drowsy Drivers.
Driving while drowsy is JUST AS DANGEROUS as driving while drunk or high on drugs. Drowsy drivers have poor reaction times, impaired motor control, and fuzzy decision making. So, when they get to an intersection or need to turn across a lane of traffic, they put others on the road at SERIOUS RISK of a broadside collision. Remember that “inattentional blindness” phenomenon I described earlier? Drowsy drivers run an ESPECIALLY high risk of that psychological quirk.
6. Road Conditions.
Drivers ALWAYS have ultimate responsibility for their own actions on the road, but slippery or rough road conditions can substantially raise the risk of a broadside collision. In wet or icy conditions, drivers may INTEND to stop at an intersection or to pull across a lane in front of oncoming traffic, only to discover that THEY CANNOT STOP because of the slick road surface. DO NOT BE ONE OF THOSE DRIVERS. Always drive at a speed appropriate for road conditions and leave yourself plenty of room to stop and maneuver should an unexpected change in the road surface catch you off guard.
Reducing Your Risk of Broadside Collisions
As I said before, THE ONLY WAY to avoid the risk of broadside collisions altogether is never to drive or ride in a motor vehicle. Since that solution is a TOTAL NON-STARTER, how can you keep yourself as safe as possible from these accidents?
Here are some tips.
- Look both ways before crossing (an intersection). THAT’S RIGHT. The advice you probably learned when you were three years old is just as important as ever. When you come to a crossroads, TAKE AN EXTRA MOMENT TO LOOK AROUND and make sure you can cross the intersection safely. Follow this rule even if you think you have the right of way. LOOK OUT for other drivers behaving aggressively or who seem set to proceed through the intersection even though it’s not their turn.
- When the light turns green, wait a few seconds before proceeding through the intersection. It’s simple: SOME YAHOO MIGHT RUN THE RED. Waiting helps to ensure that vehicles in the crossing lanes of traffic have REALLY STOPPED. Just count to three, and then go. Ignore that jerk behind you who honks. Your life matters a lot more.
- Prepare for poor visibility conditions. If you know you have to hit the road in UGLY road conditions, PLAN AHEAD. Keep your car in good condition: tires with tread, wipers that actually wipe, and so on. Keep an EMERGENCY pair of sunglasses in your center console. Look, you NEVER KNOW how the weather might change, so plan for the worst and hope for the best.
- Leave plenty of time to arrive at your destination. Drivers in a rush make MISTAKES, which leads to T-BONE COLLISIONS, which leads to RUINED LIVES. So, don’t rush. Give yourself a break and leave a little early. If you find yourself running late…deal with it. Better to arrive at that meeting or appointment late than never arrive at all.
- Leave space for other drivers merging onto interstates and highways. When you see other drivers attempting to merge, use the zipper method: allow one car to merge onto the interstate or highway for each vehicle already in the lane. Once you have safely completed the merging maneuver, back off to leave adequate space between you and the car in front of you: ideally, enough room for another vehicle to change lanes if needed. Not only is the zipper technique polite; it also SAVES LIVES by avoiding T-bones and other accidents.
- DO NOT GET DISTRACTED. I get it. It’s SO tempting to return a text at a red light or catch up on email on a familiar stretch of road. But those distractions are DEADLY. So are lots of other boneheaded actions people try to pull behind the wheel, like eating and drinking, putting on makeup, and flipping through paperwork. DISTRACTIONS KILL. Pay attention to the road while you drive and save those other activities for when you reach your destination. If whatever you need to do REALLY CAN’T WAIT, then pull over.
- Be extra careful in poor weather conditions. Look, it’s simple: bad conditions call for SLOW AND CAREFUL DRIVING. That’s especially true when you get to an intersection. Wait an extra second or two, give yourself plenty of room to maneuver, and NEVER ASSUME that the driver of a vehicle crossing your travel lane will stay in control.
Broadside collisions cause serious injuries and tragic deaths. By exercising some of the precautions above, you can DO YOUR PART to prevent these horrific, life-altering crashes.
Has a T-bone crash caused tragedy in your life? If so, then you likely have rights to compensation for your injuries, if you act quickly. Do not risk losing important rights. Contact a personal injury attorney TODAY to schedule a consultation to discuss how a broadside collision has affected your life, and how the law protects you.