In West Virginia, there are almost 2,000 head-on motor vehicle accidents over the course of the year, according to Department of Transportation. Head-on crashes occur when two cars collide directly from the front. Since the two vehicles strike directly in the front, the force of the crash becomes magnified and these accidents often cause serious or fatal collisions.
Drivers need to be aware of where head-on collisions are most likely to occur, because there are steps motorists may take in these high risk areas. The holiday season is a prime time for travel, and there will be high numbers of motorists on the road over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. The holiday periods surrounding these days also see elevated levels of impaired motorists. It is especially important to be careful and take steps to avoid head-on collisions and other types of car accidents when there are both more cars on the road and a greater chance of intoxicated drivers.
Where are Head-On Collisions Most Likely to Occur
Highway entrance ramps, exit ramps, and freeways are prime areas for head-on collisions. More than 350 total fatal accidents occurred over the course of the year on highways in West Virginia, with the majority (34 percent) on West Virginia Highways and others on county highways, U.S highways, city highways, and interstates. Head-on accidents usually occur on highways when drivers accidentally go in the wrong direction. Other motorists do not have time to get out of the way.
Federal Highway Administration studied where wrong-way accidents happen on or near highways. A total of 110 collisions were part of the study, which discovered the majority (71 of the 110 accidents) occurred on the actual freeway. Drivers got on in the wrong direction or made an illegal turn into opposing traffic, and these drivers encountered another car on the freeway, and hit it head-on. In addition to accidents on the freeway, 31 wrong-way accidents happened on on-ramps, six happened on freeway-to-freeway roads, and two happened on highway exit ramps.
While highways are dangerous, Safety Transportation reported 75 percent of head-on accidents happened in country or rural areas, and 75 percent happened on two lane roads which were divided only by a median. Of these crashes, 23 percent occurred in a curved area of the country road.
Country roads can be a high-risk location for head-on crashes because drivers end up leaving their lanes because they take a curve too fast, or because they are impaired or distracted. Drunk drivers, drivers on the phone or otherwise distracted, and drowsy drivers often cause head-on crashes in rural locations.
Head-on crashes are not just more likely in rural areas, but also account for a higher percentage of fatal accidents in rural locations. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 13 percent of deadly rural accidents are head-on accidents but only seven percent of deadly urban accidents are head-on crashes.
Drivers entering highways and driving on other roads need to be cautious, ensure they still in their lane, and follow signs so they do not get onto roads going in the wrong direction.