In Kentucky, head-on collisions accounted for two percent of all car accidents over the course of 2013. While only a small portion of crashes were head-on, these accidents caused 24 percent of fatalities in the state. Kentucky State Police Traffic Crash Facts report 1,457 head-on crashes total, and 47 fatalities in head-on collisions.
Because head-on crashes are disproportionately likely to be deadly, it is important to understand causes of head-on crashes. With drivers more aware of how these accidents happen, motorists can take steps to try to prevent tragic accidents from occurring.
Causes of Head-On Crashes
Head-on collisions primarily occur when a driver goes in the wrong direction on a highway, an entrance or an exit ramp, or a one-way road. When drivers go across a double yellow line or into an opposing lane or traffic on a roadway, this can also result in head-on crashes.
There are many possible causes of head-on crashes which could result in drivers going the wrong way on highways or veering into the opposing lane. Possible examples include:
- Distraction. In Kentucky, a total of 48,616 accidents in 2013 involved drivers who weren't paying attention. Inattentive drivers could leave their own lane and hit another vehicle head-on.
- Drug involvement. There were 1,352 collisions in Kentucky in which drivers had used drugs. When a driver is impaired by drugs, he may get onto the highway going the wrong way due to confusion or may drift from his lane and strike another vehicle.
- Falling asleep. A total of 1,122 crashes in Kentucky occurred when drivers fell asleep behind the wheel. Falling asleep can also result in a driver's car departing his lane and going head-on into another car.
- Improper passing. There were 1,104 crashes in Kentucky resulting from improper passing. Improper passing is a common cause of head-on crashes when drivers cross a double yellow line and go into the opposing lane to pass a vehicle they are following.
- Fainting or losing consciousness: In 2013, 545 crashes happened when drivers lost consciousness or fainted. A driver who is unconscious could also cross into opposing traffic.
- Alcohol. Alcohol played a role in 4,529 collisions, including 153 fatal accidents and 1,592 crashes resulting in injury. Drivers who consume alcohol could weave onto the opposing lane of traffic or could doze off or stop paying attention and cross a double yellow line into opposing traffic. Drivers who are drunk are also much more likely to get onto a highway going in the wrong direction. National Transportation Safety Board warns 60 percent of wrong-way accidents in which drivers get onto the highway going the wrong way end up being caused by motorists who are drunk.
Staying sober, paying careful attention, and staying awake and alert are some of the keys to preventing head-on crashes and bringing the death toll down. This holiday season and beyond, motorists need to be aware of common causes of head-on collisions and need to make sure they are not contributing to the risk of these serious accidents.