Head-on collisions are among the deadliest motor vehicle accidents because the vehicles absorb the entire force of impact as they move toward each other. A recent fatal car crash on Palisades Parkway in Rockland County serves as a grim reminder of the heightened danger faced by vehicle occupants in a head-on collision. According to media sources, two victims died when their vehicle was struck head-on by another vehicle. An investigation regarding the cause of the crash is ongoing. Our condolences go out to the families of the victims of this tragic accident.
Head-on collisions like the recent ones in Rockland County occur when the front ends of both vehicles are involved in the point of impact. These types of crashes commonly occur when motorists enter the freeway traveling in the wrong direction or make mistakes at intersections. A head-on collision on a freeway typically is the result of a driver inadvertently entering the freeway from the off-ramp or crossing the center median into oncoming traffic. A variation of this type of head-on collision occurs when a vehicle proceeding down a highway makes an unsafe lane change and moves into the adjacent lane of oncoming traffic to pass another vehicle. The enormous force of the impact generated by vehicles moving toward each other at freeway speeds makes head-on freeway accidents especially dangerous. When head-on collisions occur at intersections, a driver usually has disobeyed a red light, yield sign, stop sign, or otherwise disregarded right of way rules.
Because roadways are designed so that vehicles do not travel in the same lane of traffic in opposite directions, head-on collisions are almost always caused, at least in part, by the negligence of one of the drivers. The types of negligent driving that typically contribute to a head-on collision include:
- Drunk driving,
- Distracted driving,
- Running traffic lights or stop signs,
- Failure to yield,
- Turning the wrong way down a one-way street,
- Entering the freeway from an on-ramp,
- Drowsy drivers,
- Unsafe passing on two-lane roads, and
- Failure to check tire pressure or tread wear.
The physics of a head-on collision make these crashes highly likely to cause life-altering injuries. However, the nature of the danger is slightly different than many people presume. If two vehicles are moving toward each other at fifty mph, it is a common misperception that the force of impact is twice the intensity of a vehicle slamming into a brick wall at fifty mph. In reality, the force is exactly the same because of Newton’s Third Law of Motion, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Because the force is equal and opposite, this means that the vehicles move away from each other with the same force that they collide with one another. What makes these accidents so deadly is the factor of increased speed. Every time a motorist’s speed doubles four times as much energy will be released on impact, so head-on collisions at high rates of speed tend to result in catastrophic injury and wrongful death. If you are injured or lose a loved one in a head-on collision, a car accident injury lawyer can answer your legal questions and advise you regarding your right to seek financial compensation.
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