West Virginia Traffic Crash facts from Department of Transportation reveal almost 2,000 head-on accidents occur annually within the state. Head-on crashes are often among the most fatal kinds of collisions due to the magnified force when two vehicles strike each other directly. In an effort to try to prevent fatal crashes and to keep motorists safe from collisions causing serious injury, it is important to understand causes of head-on car crashes.
Causes of Head-On Crashes in West Virginia
Seventy-five percent of head-on crashes occur in rural locations, and 75 percent of head-on crashes occur on undivided two lane roads, according to Safety Transportation. When a head-on crash happens on an undivided two lane road, common causes of the head-on crash include:
- Driver impairment. Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports more than 10,000 fatalities due to impaired drivers annually. Drunk drivers often veer into opposing lanes of traffic when they swerve, due to impaired reflexes or when they doze off due to drunkenness.
- Driver distraction. Distraction.gov warns there are more than 600,000 drivers nationwide holding their phones to their ears at any given moment during daylight hours. A driver who is focused on the phone, on eating, on items in the vehicle, or on anything else other than the road could end up going into the opposing lane of traffic and striking another vehicle head-on.
- Driver fatigue. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a survey in 19 states and Washington DC and found 4.2 percent of drivers admitted to dozing off as they were driving in the 30 days prior to answering survey questions. When a driver begins to fall asleep, the driver could end up leaving his lane and traveling into opposing traffic.
- Unsafe passing. Safety Transportation indicated 4.2 percent of rural head-on crashes on undivided roads involved a driver who was passing or overtaking another vehicle at the time of the incident.
These are just a few of the major issues which result in head-on crashes on rural roads. There is also a risk on highways when drivers get onto exit ramps going in the wrong direction. A driver traveling in the opposite direction of oncoming traffic is very likely to strike other motorists head-on.
Drunk drivers are a leading cause of these types of accidents, but senior drivers are also a risk. National Transportation Safety Board reports significantly greater risk of going in the wrong direction among drivers 70 and older. Drivers 70-79 are 2.5 times as likely to get into a wrong-way crash by entering a highway in the wrong direction compared with drivers 60-69. For drivers 80 and over, there is a 30 times greater chance of causing a wrong-way accident.
With some different causes of head-on crashes on rural roads versus highways, preventing these types of deadly accidents requires careful enforcement of laws, public education, and effective engineering to reduce the risk of accidents for motorists. Every driver should also commit to staying sober, staying awake (or stopping when feeling drowsy) and paying careful attention behind the wheel when driving.