Head-On Car Accidents
On the morning of Sept. 10, 2016, emergency responders received reports that a car was driving the wrong way on the Capital of Texas Highway. But before they could stop the car, it crashed head-on with another vehicle. The driver of the wrong-way car died on the scene, and the driver of the other car was transported to a hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries.
Head-on collisions are much more likely than other types of crashes to cause serious and fatal injuries. One reason for the severity of these crashes is that they usually occur on highways, at high speeds. Often, alcohol is found to be the main contributing factor in a wrong-way crash – a motorist who is intoxicated may not notice the “wrong way” signs when entering a freeway via an on-ramp.
The victims in head-on collisions may suffer from debilitating injuries. Some of them don’t survive, leaving behind grieving families. If a head-on collision killed or injured someone in your family, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Alcohol as a Factor in Austin Crashes
In its 2012 report on wrong-way driving, the National Transportation Safety Board discussed its investigation of a head-on accident in Arlington that caused serious injuries. The driver of an SUV was traveling the wrong way on Interstate 20, and the vehicle’s airbag control module recorded a pre-impact speed of 104 mph. The SUV sideswiped one vehicle and struck the right front of a tractor-trailer before smashing into a guardrail. The crash injured the tractor-trailer driver, and the SUV driver was critically injured.
Hours later, a blood draw registered the SUV driver’s blood alcohol content as .18. But the NTSB estimated that, at the time of the crash, the driver’s BAC could have been .24 – three times the legal limit. Based on interviews with witnesses, investigators determined the SUV had likely entered the highway at the Business U.S. 287/Mansfield Highway exit, despite the presence of multiple “wrong way” and “do not enter” signs and pavement markings.
According to the NTSB, more than half of wrong-way drivers involved in collisions are under the influence of alcohol. And of the accidents included in its report, the NTSB reported that 59 percent of those drivers had what is considered to be a high BAC – at or above .15.
Wrong-Way and Head-On Crashes
When motorists see a wrong-way driver on the highway, by the time they can safely call 9-1-1 to report it, the offending vehicle may have already caused an crash. Quick detection of wrong-way drivers may help reduce head-on crashes.
San Antonio has been testing ways to reduce wrong-way and head-on crashes, through its San Antonio Wrong Way Driver Initiative. Using closed-circuit cameras installed along the highways and interstates, law enforcement has been able to detect the moment a car enters the freeway from the wrong direction and immediately send officers to the scene.
In 2011, of 185 wrong-way drivers, San Antonio police found 14 of them were intoxicated; those drivers were arrested before causing a crash. About 80 percent of wrong-way driving incidents involved no collision; 13 incidents resulted in collisions without fatalities, and four wrong-way crashes caused seven accident fatalities.
It’s not just wrong-way travel that causes head-on collisions. Occasionally, these accidents occur when a driver attempts to pass another car and enters oncoming traffic.
In April 2016, a pickup truck driver attempted to pass a car in a no-passing zone, just west of San Marcos, and crashed head-on into a Toyota Camry. The driver of the truck and two people in the Camry died on the scene, and three other people were taken to a hospital for treatment of their injuries.
Even when drivers attempt to legally pass another vehicle, they can cause a car crash if they misjudge the speed of oncoming traffic, or the speed at which they need to travel to merge back into their own lane. If there’s any doubt about the ability to safely pass another car, it’s not worth the risk.
Justice for Families
Often, the driver that causes a head-on collision dies in the crash, and the victims of that driver’s behavior may think they have no way to pursue justice. But Texas law allows many ways for victims to pursue compensation. In one instance, a Texas nightclub was found to be 75 percent liable for a drunk-driving crash and was ordered to pay $2.05 million in damages. A jury determined the nightclub was negligent in allowing a visibly intoxicated driver to leave the premises.
The Evans & Herlihy Law Firm has years of experience helping injury victims and their families get the compensation they deserve. Find out how we can help you. Use our online form or call us at 1-855-414-1012 to request your free consultation.