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Head-On Collisions in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs Head-On Accident Law Firm

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA and the Insurance Information Institute III, head-on collisions between two cars do not occur as frequently in Colorado or nationally as other types of motor car accidents. Head-on collisions, on the other hand, cause catastrophic damage and frequently result in fatalities.

Warrior Car Accident Lawyers believes in doing our part to educate the public about these tragic accidents in the hopes of reducing their frequency. In this blog post, we’ll look at the factors that lead to head-on collisions, the physics that explain why these collisions are so dangerous, and what you can do as a driver to avoid them.

FACTORS THAT CAUSE HEAD-ON COLLISIONS

Head-on collisions, except minor fender benders in parking lots, can be difficult to comprehend. To prevent cars traveling in opposite directions from colliding, roads have lane markings, signs, and barriers, and numerous secondary indicators of which direction traffic should travel on a roadway. Furthermore, drivers facing forward should be able to avoid colliding with an approaching car.

These factors all contribute to the fact that head-on collisions are far less common than other types of accidents. They do, however, assist in explaining why head-on collisions do occur. The majority of head-on collisions occur when a driver travels the wrong way on a one-way street or a limited-access highway or when a driver on a two-lane road leaves their lane and crosses into the opposite lane.

Although many safeguards exist on Colorado roads to prevent cars from colliding head-on in these situations, they do not eliminate the risk. Confusion, mistakes, and tragic deaths can occur as a result of road conditions and driver behavior.

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HERE ARE SOME OF THE FACTORS THAT CAUSE HEAD-ON COLLISIONS.

A LACK OF VISIBILITY

Road engineers install safety features to prevent head-on collisions and wrong-way driving, but they only work if they see them. Although Colorado is known as the Sunshine State, the sun only shines during the day, and even during daylight hours, rainstorms, fog, and glare can make it difficult for drivers to see road markings and signs. Visibility can also be hampered by vegetation encroaching on signs and the roadway.

Visibility is affected by various factors, including the time of day, weather, and foliage. Drivers who operate cars without adequate headlights, forget to wear their prescription glasses and/or sunglasses, or whose cars lack working windshield wipers and defogging fans can obstruct their ability to see the road ahead of them and the relevant indicators of which way to go.

DROWSINESS AND DRIVER IMPAIRMENT

Drivers who are impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a lack of sleep frequently make poor decisions. Visual cues such as lane markings and road signs may go unnoticed. Their reaction times slow down, and they frequently lose the ability to avoid obstacles or maintain control of their cars.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, a high percentage of head-on collisions in Colorado involve at least one driver who has a measurable blood alcohol content. Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel, on the other hand,  are at a high risk of straying into oncoming traffic.

THE DISTRACTION OF THE DRIVER

Any action that diverts the driver’s attention away from the task of driving and the road ahead is considered distracted driving. We often associate cell phone use with distracted driving, but it is only one of many ways for drivers to lose focus on the road. Drivers who apply makeup, lean in to talk to other passengers, listen to music too loudly, fiddle with the radio or GPS, or reach for something on the passenger-side floor are all engaging in dangerous distracted driving behaviors.

Because our minds and bodies shift while behind the wheel, so does our car; distracted driving contributes to head-on collisions. According to science, it is nearly impossible for the vast majority of people to pay attention to both their phone screen and the road simultaneously. 

Drivers who lose focus on the road favoring a screen may cause their car to stray from its intended path. Physical distractions in a car, likewise, affect the direction of travel. When you put your hands on the steering wheel, your body becomes a lever. Your arm and hand clutching the steering wheel will move in a counterbalancing direction if you lean or turn one way, causing the car to deviate from its path and, potentially, into oncoming traffic.

ROADS THAT ARE UNFAMILIAR TO YOU/INADEQUATE MARKINGS AND SIGNS

When driving unfamiliar roads, there’s a chance you’ll go the wrong way and end up in a head-on collision. Drivers unfamiliar with their surroundings are more likely to make rash, unpredictable, and rash decisions than drivers familiar with their surroundings.

Coloradan’s face a particularly high risk of encountering drivers who mistake driving the wrong way on unfamiliar roads due to the state’s relatively high percentage of vacationers and seasonal residents compared to the rest of the country.

When local governments fail to maintain road markings and signs, the danger of driving unfamiliar roads increases, lane markings fade in the Colorado sun, especially along the coasts, forcing drivers to guess traffic patterns, leading to tragic consequences. Similarly, road agencies must ensure that missing or fallen signs are replaced to avoid driver confusion. When these vital markings are lost or neglected, the risk of a head-on collision increases.

WHY ARE COLLISIONS WITH ANOTHER CAR SO DANGEROUS? PHYSICS.

Next, we’ll look at why head-on collisions are so dangerous. You might think that because today’s cars are equipped with standard safety features like airbags, crumple zones, and seatbelts, drivers and passengers in head-on collisions have a good chance of surviving them. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Most of the time, those safety features are effective.

On the other hand, head-on collisions are more likely to occur at or near normal driving speeds for at least one of the two cars involved. Even if the passengers are restrained, and the car’s safety systems are in perfect working order, they exert enormous energy on the car’s structure and the passengers inside.

In any head-on collision, at least one of the two cars will experience an instant deceleration from whatever speed it is traveling to zero, as well as a likely momentary acceleration in the opposite direction. As explained in this helpful article, this is physics in action.

A sudden and violent deceleration from 55 miles per hour, for example, can cause significant internal damage to the driver and passengers. Furthermore, no head-on collision is ever perfectly head-on. There will almost always be some angular force that can injure the occupants of the car.

Another factor that makes head-on collisions dangerous is the link between driver intoxication and speeding. Drunk drivers frequently disobey posted speed limits, which means that a wrong-way, head-on collision caused by a drunk driver often occurs at even higher speeds than usual. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s 2018 Highway Safety Plan:

For every ten miles per hour, a car travels above 50 mph, the chances of dying in a crash double. In the event of a collision, speeding reduces the time a driver has to react to a dangerous situation and increases the impact of energy and risk of death.

However, it’s important to note that a head-on collision between two mirror-image cars traveling at the same speed is not the same as one car colliding with an immovable barrier at twice the speed. According to physics, the force of the collision will be split between the two cars. That isn’t to say that the forces at work aren’t still potentially disastrous. They undoubtedly are.

CONTRIBUTE TO THE PREVENTION OF HEAD-ON COLLISIONS

Anyone reading this blog post should know that head-on collisions are extremely dangerous for drivers and passengers. However, as the aforementioned contributing factors demonstrate, they’re also unusual and unexpected. How do you defend yourself against something so unpredictably unpredictable? 

Let’s take a look at it in more detail. As a driver, you can take some proactive steps to avoid causing a head-on collision. You can also take some defensive driving measures to avoid becoming a victim of one.

HOW TO STAY AWAY FROM A HEAD-ON COLLISION

Head-on collisions are, for the most part, avoidable, as the contributing factors above suggest. A driver can take precautions and make wise decisions to reduce the likelihood of being the one who causes a head-on collision to almost zero. Using the factors listed above as a guide, you can:

MAINTAIN YOUR CAR

You never know when bad weather, poor visibility, or other potentially dangerous road conditions will occur. Protect yourself by ensuring that the systems in your car that assist you in seeing the road ahead are in good working order.

Replace your wipers regularly. Never drive with a headlight or fog light that has burned out. Check that your defroster is working and that it can clear condensation from the inside of the car. Also, whenever you fill up your tank, take simple steps like washing gunk off your windshield, windows, and mirrors. All of these things will help you avoid getting lost in a fog or a downpour.

MAKE A COMPLAINT ABOUT POOR ROAD MARKINGS AND SIGNAGE

If you come across a road sign that has become overgrown with vegetation or are perplexed by fading lane markings, please report it! The Colorado Department of Transportation explains how in this FAQ. A two-minute phone call could mean the difference between life and death.

DO NOT DRIVE IF YOU ARE DRUNK OR TIRE

In Colorado, it is illegal to drive while drunk or high. However, driver impairment entails more than simply not driving after drinking or using drugs. Also, be aware of the side effects of your prescription medication, as they could impair your judgment and ability to drive safely. Also, keep in mind that driving while drowsy has the same consequences as driving while intoxicated. Pullover and take a catnap if you’re tired.

KEEP DISTRACTIONS TO A MINIMUM

The fewer distractions you allow behind the wheel, the less likely it is that one of them will cause you to drift out of your lane or make a poor turning decision. Also, keep in mind that texting while driving is now illegal in Colorado.

MAKE A TRIP PLAN.

Plan if you’re going to drive somewhere unfamiliar. Examine a map of your intended route to get a mental picture of your journey. To avoid distraction, program your GPS before you start driving. Also, don’t be afraid to pull over and ask for assistance.

HOW TO AVOID BEING HIT BY A CAR IN A HEAD-ON COLLISION

When it comes to avoiding other people’s dangerous driving behaviors, many of the same tips apply. Keeping up with your car’s maintenance and reporting dangerous road markings can help keep you and those around you safe.

Avoiding distractions and not driving while drunk or tired gives you the best chance of avoiding an oncoming car. Trip planning gives you confidence in how traffic should flow on your route, allowing you to spot unusual driving behavior in others.

Furthermore, adhering to some basic defensive driving principles will help keep you out of injury’s way. Don’t go too fast. As visibility decreases, drive more slowly. Maintain a safe distance between you and other cars. Don’t use your high beams to blind oncoming drivers.

Finally, consider what-if scenarios from time to time. Having even a rudimentary idea of what you’d do in an emergency can save your life. Pay attention to your surroundings, for example, so you know where to pull over if an oncoming car swerved into your lane or appeared to be traveling the wrong way in your path. Disaster planning does not have to be done regularly, but it can make a big difference if something unexpected happens.

Contact an experienced car accident attorney if you have questions about head-on collisions and your rights after being injured in one.

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