The Accident SpecificsA head-on collision happens when two vehicles that are traveling in opposite directions barrel into each other—often at high speeds. The level of devastation that ensues isn’t hard to predict. These accidents are so violent that even first-responders can have difficulty coping with the devastation. In head-on collisions, both cars typically sustain serious damage, and it is rare for any occupant of either car to walk away uninjured.
Common CausesHead-on car accidents are often caused by one car crossing into a lane of oncoming traffic and, thus, into an oncoming vehicle. As egregious as such an error is, it can be influenced by a variety of factors:
- An exhausted driver who nods off
- A distracted driver who isn’t paying attention (smartphone usage is a common culprit)
- A driver who is impaired by alcohol or drugs
- A driver who passes other vehicles on a two-lane highway without taking proper care
- A driver who fails to factor in the condition of the road (including conditions caused by inclement weather)
The Mechanics of the AccidentWhen two vehicles collide at high speeds, each vehicle suddenly stops. As the cars decelerate, the occupants of the vehicles continue to rocket around inside the tight space at the original speed of impact. The occupants continue crashing into each other and the surfaces of the vehicles throughout the trajectory of the crash. Finally, the immense power behind these accidents turns any shards of glass, plastic, or metal (that break off during impact) into deadly shrapnel. The physical damage that ensues is extremely dangerous and often
Not Quite Head OnEven though head-on collisions mean that two cars collide head on, it doesn’t mean that they connect squarely front to front. Often the impact is off center, which typically causes one or both vehicles to spin—thus exacerbating the inherent danger and injuries and increasing the likelihood that there will be more vehicles involved in the accident. Further, when a vehicle is set spinning, it can cause deployed airbags to fail to connect with the car’s occupants and to deny the occupants even that level of protection. Again, the impact and violence of head-on collisions are nightmarish.
Common InjuriesFor survivors of head-on car accidents, there are a variety of extremely serious injuries that are often sustained:
- Head and facial injuries - Occupants of vehicles that hit head on are susceptible to extreme head and facial injuries. Before the advent of airbags and new and improved crumple zones, such injuries were nearly a constant. Because these safety features are now in force, head and facial injuries—though they remain a serious and obvious danger—aren’t as ubiquitous as they once were.
- Injuries to the lower leg and femur - In head-on collisions, it is very common for occupants to crash into the vehicles’ instrument panels and knee bolsters—often causing serious injuries to their legs. This can happen even when the occupants are securely belted in. Such injuries are usually intensely painful and slow to heal. Further, when they don’t heal correctly, they can lead to permanent disabilities.
- Neck Injuries - While many people associate neck injuries with rear-end collisions, they are just as prevalent in head-on accidents. The extreme impact of a head-on accident can cause the vehicles’ occupants to have their heads violently whipped around. Neck injuries like whiplash are extremely painful and extremely unpredictable. Such injuries can lead to ongoing pain and disability.
- Traumatic brain injuries - Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), because they affect the brain—the body’s command center—are extremely dangerous and unpredictable. The physical, financial, and emotional consequences of a serious TBI are difficult to overstate. In fact, the emotional component can be even more arduous to overcome than the physical damage.