A man driving a GMC pickup the wrong way on the Suncoast Parkway (S.R. 598) in thick fog and crashed head-on into a vehicle going the correct way. According to a Highland County Sheriff’s officer at the scene, the accident happened early Sunday morning, February 3 near mile marker 38. The driver of the pickup hit a Mini Cooper head on killing its driver.
The Sheriff’s office said that impairment was suspected to be a factor, and the wrong way driver had a previous DUI conviction in 2009. However, no charges have been filed, and it’s unknown if the driver of the GMC pickup was actually impaired.
Head-On and Wrong-Way Driving
Head-on collisions are the deadliest, according to a report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Head-on collisions account for only 2 percent of total accidents each year but make up 10 percent of all fatalities.
There are two types of head-on collisions: centerline drift and wrong way driving (WWD). Centerline drift head-on collisions occur when the driver drifts or slides over the centerline of a non-divided highway and hits an oncoming car head on. Eighty-five percent of head-on collisions are centerline drifts.
WWD collisions happened only in 15 percent of head-on collisions and occur when a vehicle enters a divided highway or freeway going the wrong way and hits a car going the correct direction.
Causes of Wrong Way Driving
WWD collisions cause slightly more severe injuries and fatalities than other head-on collisions because of the high speeds of a non-divided highway. For these to occur, the driver must enter the lanes from the wrong direction, typically using in off-ramp for a entrance. Cause of these are:
- Poor visibility
- Poor/confusing signage
- Distraction including cellphone
- Relying on navigation app
Head-On Collision Injuries
The reason head-on collisions are so deadly is that the impact comprises both vehicles’ speed and mass. Also, the occupants are thrown toward the front of their car, and then they are thrown violently back into their seat. This action causes certain common injuries:
- Blunt Force Trauma: The vast majority of fatalities come from the impact of the person into whatever is in front of them.
- Traumatic Brain Injury: Not always fatal and happens with the impact of the body at the time of collision.
- Thoracic Spine Injury: (Whiplash) This injury is not necessarily fatal, but it often results in paralysis. It comes from the body being thrown forward where the spine in the neck is stretched and then violently compressed when thrown back into the seat.
- Broken Bones: Skull fractures, facial bones, ribs and extremities such as wrists, ankles legs.
What Should I do if I’m Injured in a Head-on Collision?
If you are injured in a head-on collision, your number one priority is the get safe and then address immediate medical needs. After that, if you are able, make sure to get as much information as possible taking pictures if you have your phone or other camera with you.
Sooner or later, the focus will shift to who was at fault once the financial losses began mounting. At this point it is best to talk to a professional who can advise you on the law and to evaluate your case. Don’t be fooled by the insurance agent as they have their own interests.
Do I Need an Attorney?
In some cases, maybe not. However, in a multiple car collision where the damages are significant, then talking to an attorney is a must. You need an attorney who can give you unbiased advice and can evaluate your case.