The driver of Toyota Yaris allegedly drifted across the centerline and hit a Chevrolet pickup truck head on. The driver of the Toyota died at the scene, and the driver of the pickup was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital in critical condition. Another person, a passenger in the Toyota was taken to a nearby hospital with unspecified injuries.
According to Tampa Bay Reporter, the accident happened on County Road 39 in Lithia around 4:30 p.m., Thursday, February 28, 2019. The Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office states that it is suspected that alcohol and drugs are suspected of being a factor in the crash. The roadway was closed in both directions for several hours pending clean-up and investigation.
Head-on collisions have the highest risk of fatalities than any other accident type according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. This is primarily because of the speed of most head-on collisions and that the impact is compounded by the momentum of both vehicles.
Head-on collisions can be categorized into two types: Centerline drift and wrong way driving (WWD). Both produce similar impacts and injuries, but they happen for a significantly different reason and under separate circumstances.
Centerline drift accidents occur when one car drifts over the median and into oncoming traffic. The vast majority (85%) of centerline drift head-on crashes happen on non-divided, two-lane rural highways.
A driver can drift a few feet for almost any reason. Many times, they can merely correct with no harm done. However, on non-divided highways, there are only a few feet between cars that are passing each other at 50+ miles an hour.
Common causes of centerline drift:
- Impaired Driving: Driving under the influence is the number one reason for centerline drift crashes. Alcohol is still the primary cause for impaired driving, however, marijuana impairment is increasing at a rapid pace due to the number of states that have legalized recreational marijuana.
- Drowsy/Fatigue Driving: Drivers often doze off due to being sleepy or fatigued. Most of the time, the road bumps or the sensation of drifting will jerk the driver awake. However, other times the person crosses the centerline into oncoming traffic.
- Distracted Driving: On non-divided highways, it takes less than a second of drift the few feet into the oncoming lane, and thus any distraction can be deadly. Cell phone/texting is the number one distracted driving cause. Others are eating, make-up/shaving, radio/CD player, interacting with other passengers.
Another type of a head-on collision is called wrong way driving (WWD) and happens only 15 percent of the time. According to the NHTSA, WWD happens when a car enters a divided highway and travels against the designated direction of that lane. This happens when someone enters the freeway from an off-ramp or turns the wrong way when crossing a divided highway.
Common causes of WWD are:
- Impaired Driving: The NHTSA reports that over 60 percent of all WWD crashes are because the driver was impaired. Almost all WWD comes from an error in judgment or inobservance of the driver. When the driver is impaired, by definition his or her reasoning and judgment is diminished.
- Visibility: Most WWD happens at night, and poor visibility can cause someone to miss the signs and/or become confused as to where to go.
- Poor Signage: Often time, the signs that show proper direction or the warning signs are either in poor repair or insufficient in design. This can cause even an awake and unimpaired driver to make a mistake.
- Purposeful WWD: In a small percentage but significant number of accidents the driver enters the wrong way on purpose in an attempt to end their life or harm others.
DUI and Head-On Collisions
Impaired driving is the number one cause of both types of head-on collisions. For centerline drift cases, the impairment contributes to the likelihood that the driver will drift across centerline. This is especially hideous as it puts others as extreme risk of injury and death. It’s also a fact that the impaired driver has a statistically higher chance at surviving the accident than those in the other car.
In a WWD, impairment contributes to the driver entering the wrong direction in a divided highway. While there could be other reasons like poor signage or bad visibility, once a person is impaired, it makes it more likely the mistake will be made. Once going the wrong way, impairment is likely to reduce the ability of the driver to recognize that they are going the wrong way.
Common Injuries With Head-On Collisions
Head-on crashes are typified by high-impact collisions and thus produce common injuries. Some of them are:
- Blunt Force Trauma
- Head Injuries/Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Internal Injuries/Bleeding
- Air bag injuries
Contact a Tampa Bay Area Car Accident Attorney Today
Always speak to an attorney after any head on collision accident resulting in a serious injury.
If you were involved in a crash similar to this one, contact us today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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