Head-on accidents account for only 2% of Arizona collisions, but they are responsible for 12% of the state’s fatal crashes. The forces generated by head-on accidents are more likely to cause catastrophic injuries and death than most other collisions. The Arizona head-on accident lawyers at Pew Law Center represent injury victims and surviving family members when a head-on collision is caused by a driver’s negligence.

Most head-on accidents in Arizona occur on two-lane roads in rural areas, but they can also happen on freeways and city streets. The Arizona Department of Public Safety recently expressed its frustration after a string of head-on crashes claimed dozens of lives on the freeways that weave through the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Causes of Arizona Head-On Accidents

On two-lane undivided roads, a head-on accident can occur when one vehicle pulls into a lane of oncoming traffic to perform a passing maneuver and fails to return to its own lane before a collision occurs. Passing in a “no passing” zone can also cause a head-on crash because the driver who is passing is unaware of approaching traffic that is on the other side of a hill or hidden by a curve.

In most cases, however, head-on accidents on two-lane roads are caused when two vehicles are both driving near the centerline and one strays into the lane of an oncoming driver. When a crash occurs at or near the centerline, the head-on accident attorneys at Arizona’s Pew Law Center may decide to hire an accident reconstruction engineer to determine exactly where the accident occurred and which driver was at fault. Engineers make those determinations by analyzing the position of accident debris, the final resting places of the vehicles involved, vehicle damage, gouge marks on the pavement, and other factors.

Some head-on accidents in Arizona are caused by a driver taking a curve too fast. The forces involved in cornering may push the vehicle into an oncoming traffic lane. Other head-on crashes occur when a driver travels the wrong way on a one-way street or in the wrong traffic lane.

A surprising number of Arizona head-on crashes occur when a driver goes the wrong way on an exit or entrance ramp. The Arizona Department of Transportation has installed larger “wrong way” and “do not enter” signs on ramps and is experimenting with a detection and warning system that will flash warning signs on ramps when a driver is traveling in the wrong direction.

Occasionally, an earlier accident triggers a head-on crash. For example, when a truck causes a chain reaction by colliding at a high speed with the rear of another vehicle, it is not unusual for one of the cars in the chain to be pushed forward, into a lane of oncoming traffic.

Distracted and Impaired Drivers

Drivers who go the wrong way on an entrance or exit ramp are often impaired by the consumption of alcohol or drugs. Drinking and drug use can also cause drivers to fall asleep or to lose concentration, which increases the likelihood that they will stray into a lane of oncoming traffic.

Fatigue impairs driving performance even when it is not caused by alcohol or drugs. Truck drivers who exceed the hours they are permitted to drive (or who don’t sleep during their nondriving periods) can cause devastating head-on crashes by encroaching on a lane of oncoming traffic.

Driver distraction, however, is the number one cause of head-on accidents in Arizona. Drivers are most likely to cross a centerline, or to go the wrong way on a ramp or road, when their attention is focused on something other than driving. Making a call or sending a text on a cellphone is a common reason for distracting driving, but other negligent acts while driving include typing an address into a GPS, putting on makeup in a rearview mirror, or unwrapping a fast-food meal. Anything that causes a driver to divert attention from the road, including thinking about work or watching road construction, can lead to a head-on accident on Arizona roads.

Arizona Head-On Accident Injuries

Death is the most serious outcome of a head-on crash. Airbags and crumple zones at the front of modern cars reduce the risk of fatality, but a high-speed head-on accident, particularly one that involves a heavy vehicle, will often produce forces that cannot be overcome by safety devices. Just going from 60 mph to zero in an instant may produce sufficient force to break a driver’s neck, regardless of the body’s impact with the interior of the car.

Head-on accidents in Arizona cause death when the victim’s chest or abdomen is crushed. Head injuries in a head-on accident are often fatal. Puncture wounds from flying debris can cause death from blood loss or organ failure.

Occupants who survive a head-on accident often experience catastrophic injuries, including:

  • Paralysis caused by spinal injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Loss of limbs
  • Broken bones
  • Eye and facial injuries

Even a low-speed head-on Arizona accident can cause lasting damage to soft tissues, including torn or stretched muscles and tendons. Cartilage damage can cause long-term back problems, and nerve damage can make every aspect of life painful.

Need Help? We’re Here For You

When a head-on accident in Arizona is fatal, a wrongful death attorney at Pew Law Center can help surviving relatives recover compensation. In most cases, a surviving spouse and children can pursue compensation. When a family member has no spouse or children, Pew Law Center helps the estate bring a wrongful death claim and compensation is divided according to the terms of the deceased’s will.

The Arizona head-on accident lawyers at Pew Law Center also help collision victims obtain compensation for the injuries caused by head-on accidents. Compensation can cover medical bills and replace lost wages. The expense of future healthcare and injury rehabilitation is typically included in insurance settlements, as well as the expense of coping with a long-term injury.

Pain and suffering, anxiety, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life are all factors considered in an Arizona head-on accident settlement. Lawyers at Pew Law Center have substantial experience evaluating and settling claims and in bringing cases to trial when insurance companies refuse to make a reasonable settlement offer. To learn how the Pew Law Center’s head-on accident attorneys in Arizona can help you, call (480) 745-1770 to make an appointment for a free consultation.