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Fatal Independence Day Crash Shines Spotlight on Head-On Collisions

Jason Reese

Deadly Head-On Collision Occurred In Indianapolis on Independence Day

State police say one person was killed and two others were critically injured following a head-on crash on the east side of Indianapolis on the recent Fourth of July holiday. The two-car wreck occurred around 11:30 a.m. near the intersection of 12th Street and Mitthoefer Road, when one driver of a car traveling north on Mitthoefer, crossed the center line and crashed head-on into a southbound vehicle, critically injuring two male drivers and a female passenger.

A local bystander and former Paramedic was traveling nearby when he heard the crash and entered the scene to help. After assessing the woman passenger, he realized she was in cardiac arrest and soon began assisting her breathing with ventilations. When initial rescue crews arrived, they called for medic and extrication units who then used emergent transport to take the woman to Methodist Hospital. She passed away a short time later. Our thoughts are with her family during this time.

Causes of Head-On Collisions

A head-on crash typically occurs when a vehicle crosses a centerline or a median and crashes into an approaching vehicle. A head-on crash can also occur when a driver knowingly or unknowingly travels the wrong way in a traffic lane. Statistics from the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) indicate that “18 percent of noninterchange, nonjunction fatal crashes were two vehicles colliding head-on.” Often, head-on collisions occur because of distractions, fatigue, intoxication, and bad decision-making on the part of the drivers involved like speeding or deliberate actions such as executing a passing maneuver on a two-lane road.

In addition, FARS data reveals that:

  • 75 percent of head-on crashes occur on rural roads,
  • 75 percent of head-on crashes occur on undivided two-lane roads, and
  • 83 percent of two-lane undivided road crashes occur on rural roads.

Early Notification Steps Can Help Reduce Being Hit

Head-on collisions are often deadly because most drivers don’t see them coming or don’t have the time to safely maneuver away from the oncoming vehicle. These types of accidents should remind drivers to be alert, not be distracted and be prepared at all times while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers may be able to reduce their risk of being hit head-on by having their eyes fixed on the road ahead, and taking time to watch the flow of oncoming traffic and their driving patterns. It helps to pay special attention to where in the lane an approaching vehicle is driving. If they are drifting, it can give you the added time needed to move safely out of their way.

Knowing where you can move to is a good habit to get into and one way to avoid being involved in a head-on collision. Many roadways have a shoulder, mostly gravel, which can be used to safely drive to the side as oncoming vehicles travel towards your line. You will want to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and move slightly onto the gravel shoulder. Be prepared to drive to the right and shouldn’t wait until the last second to do so. If you begin leaning to the right before the other car is directly in front of you, you have a higher chance of avoiding colliding with a solid object. Don’t hit it head-on. Remember that you may have some damage done to your car, but it will certainly be better than the results of a head-on collision with another vehicle.

Panic and hitting the brakes are the worst reactions you can have. You may lose control by braking into a skid, so slow down as much as is safely possible. If there is an impact, this will greatly reduce the damage done and the risk of fatality. Braking will only delay the oncoming driver from hitting you and cause even more serious injury if not death.

Learn how to prevent head-on collisions by following these additional simple good driving practices:

  • The first most basic preventative precaution for head-on collisions is to pay attention. If you are fully aware of your surroundings, you’ll be able to see the driver swerving down the road.
  • Turn on your headlights to bring an oncoming driver’s attention to your presence, even during the day.
  • But be prepared to drive into the shoulder if they continue to swerve toward you.
  • Never straddle or hug the center line. This is just asking for head-on collisions, either from distracted drivers or from a slip of your hand that takes you into the oncoming lane.
  • Drive in the right lane in multi-lane traffic areas, and if you are in the left, drive as close to the right as is safe. This is particularly true of curvy roads, so you can avoid the driver speeding around the bend toward you.

Help From Road Managers

For years, both State and Government road managers have been making pleas to create strategies to minimize the amount of head-on collisions in Indiana. Some of these strategies include, installing center line rumble strips for two-lane roads and profiled thermoplastic strips for center lines. They want to provide wider cross sections on two-lane roads and center two-way left-turn lanes for four- and two-lane roads. Reallocating total two-lane roadway width (lane and shoulder) to include a narrow “buffer median has also been an approach to keep vehicles from encroaching into opposite lane and minimize the likelihood of crashing into an oncoming vehicle has also been used.

Other ‘Reducing’ Head-On Strategies

  • Enhanced delineation of sharp curves;
  • Improved highway geometry, especially for horizontal curves, including design elements such as curvature, super elevation, and widening through the curve;
  • Better pavement markings;
  • Skid-resistant pavement surfaces;
  • Improved shoulders to prevent over recovery, including paving, eliminating edge drops, and improving shoulder slopes; and
  • Rumble strips to slow vehicles on approaches to hazardous locations.

Were You Injured In a Head-On Collision? – Call Wagner Reese

It’s not every day that you or a loved one are injured in a car accident let alone a scary head-on collision, but if it happens, you want the right attorney on your side. The vehicular accident attorneys have the experience you need to secure compensation and assist you with your recovery. If you’ve been injured, or if you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent driving, call our offices today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation.


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