Avoiding a head-on car collision
A head-on collision is a serious accident. Accidents can be avoided if you intelligently plan your actions and think ahead about how you can avoid a head-on collision in any given case.
Reasons for accidents and head-on collisions
The main reason why head-on collisions happen is that one of the two cars flies into the oncoming lane. The reasons for this are as follows:
- Overtaking. Wrong estimation of the speed of oncoming traffic, road conditions, overconfidence, optical effects in fog and rain, which distort visual distance perception, may cause a head-on collision during overtaking.
- Sleeping of the driver of the oncoming car. It happens to the drivers of heavy trucks, truckers. The driver disconnects when driving the car. Characteristic features are: staying for a long time in the oncoming lane, when there are no obstacles for getting back to your lane, uncertain trajectory of movement – the car wiggles. If the driver does not react to light and sound signals, you should rely only on your own forces, having estimated the trajectory of the car.
- Loss of control – when the car skids on the road, and it flies into the oncoming lane. It is difficult to predict the trajectory of the car in this case, so, choosing a variant of action, it remains only to hope for luck.
- Other reasons.
What to do if a car rushes towards you
How correctly to avoid a head-on collision, depends on specific conditions:
- The condition of the pavement – asphalt, dirt or gravel;
- The time of year – winter and summer tires behave differently, and it also matters if the road is icy, or if it is raining or snowing;
- the number of people on the road;
- the speed at which the cars approach each other and the speed of the passing traffic.
Play a significant role, if not the main, and the driver’s ability to react quickly and make decisions, the ability to feel the car and maneuver in the traffic flow.
If overtaking takes place
The driver who is driving in his lane, should evaluate the speed of oncoming cars, which overtake, entering his lane.
In no case in a critical situation in a panic, you can not swerve into the oncoming lane without assessing the situation, as there will be a collision with the car you were trying to overtake.
If the car is rapidly approaching on the oncoming lane and does not have time to complete the maneuver, that is to return to their own lane, the driver of the car traveling oncoming should start braking in their lane. Brake sharply or smoothly, depends not only on the speed of the oncoming car, but also on the presence of vehicles following behind. If you brake sharply, there’s a good chance that the driver of the next car won’t have time to react quickly. And the danger is not that he will hit the trunk area, but that this blow will provoke the car to skid and lose control. The car is likely to drift into the oncoming lane.
Some drivers immediately pull over at full speed. But braking on the side of the road is fraught with consequences due to the unsuitable road surface, which has a lower coefficient of grip. Because of the dirt, snow, rubble, getting under the wheels at high speed, you can lose control.
You should be careful when approaching trucks, which limit the view. Because of one of them a light truck can sharply jump out, and the outcome of the situation will largely depend on the reaction rate of drivers.
Driving in the oncoming lane for no apparent reason
If the driver, moving oncoming, has an opportunity to return to his lane, but he for some reason slows down, you should slow down, give him a signal with high beam headlights and a horn, thereby drawing his attention to the pre-traffic situation. The driver may not see the oncoming car or fall asleep at the wheel. These actions should help.
If the motorist still does not respond, he probably for some reason can not control the steering. It is necessary to take the right or left by releasing the brake pedal. If the condition of the curb is good, it is recommended to turn onto it. In winter and in the absence of oncoming cars, the best option is the oncoming lane. You should not forget about the turn signal, as the car, which created a critical situation, can perform a similar maneuver, also try to go to the side of the oncoming lane. Then collision all the same will occur, but already on a curb.
You can turn to the side of the road on the left, when it is not prevented by oncoming cars, and the right shoulder is occupied by people or vehicles.
Many drivers enter the oncoming lane, trying to avoid a collision, even if it is not visible from a sufficient distance, for example, on a rise. Then there is a risk of being hit by an oncoming car.
If, after a critical situation, the driver starts to return to his lane, it is recommended to pull closer to the curb.
The car is skidded
If the driver of the car loses control because of the skid, you need to immediately brake and try to evade the collision with the help of a maneuver. The main thing is not to panic and not to direct the car to oncoming cars or into the forehead of the lost control of the vehicle.
The most important mistake of drivers in a critical situation – the increase in speed in the hope to skip, such behavior is justified only in exceptional cases.
It is important to brake correctly. First brake, and only then make the desired maneuver. You can not turn the steering wheel while braking – the car will go into a skid.
Do not forget about the safety of vehicles behind you. It is worth to warn them of the danger ahead with a signal wrecker, if there is enough time to turn it on.
If you do not have time to overtake
The first thing you should do is to attract the attention of the driver of the car driving ahead of you with your headlights on, blinking 1 or 2 times, thus letting him know you need to slow down. This will help to buy time for further action. Then there are two options:
- Complete overtaking, signaling the turn signal, and quickly, but without sudden movements, readjust to his lane. It is logical to do so when the overtaking is almost complete. For example, a long lorry was overtaken, and the car was already equal to the driver’s cabin.
- Refuse to overtake. In this case, turn on the left turn signal, brake to let the vehicle being overtaken ahead, and return to your lane. This is the best way to avoid a head-on collision if you are more than halfway through overtaking. Avoid speeding up; it won’t help prevent a collision.
Actions should not be fidgety and chaotic. Returning to your lane, it is important not to undercut a passing car.
It is possible to direct the car to the left shoulder in exceptional cases, as it is intended for oncoming cars, and there is a high probability that the car going towards you will avoid collision exactly to the right.
Experienced drivers are advised to start overtaking, slightly increasing the distance between your car and the car ahead. This way you can better see the situation in the opposite lane, and you can speed up to overtake on the opposite lane at a higher speed.
It is necessary to limit the number of overtaking:
Starting to overtake, you should assess in advance the density of traffic of the cars ahead of you and the possibility of quickly changing to your own lane. There are times when there is a dense column of cars ahead, and you have to overtake not one, but several cars at once.
What to do if a collision is unavoidable
When there is no time to maneuver, you need to slow down the car as much as possible. The experts consider, that it is not necessary to change the direction of movement for the impact to be tangential, because the consequences of inevitable frontal collision may be more serious. In frontal collision, the driver and the passengers are saved by belts and airbags. In tangential collision, the car may bounce above the ground and roll over, sometimes more than once. It may go over in a ditch. Injuries can be more significant.
The main thing is to brace oneself before the collision: your elbows protect your chest, palms protect your face and eyes, move your legs away from pedals in order to avoid injuries caused by crumpling body and getting stuck between the seat and the dashboard.
Important: In almost all cases, to avoid the fatal consequences of a frontal collision, you must brake, slow down as much as possible. Even if a frontal collision cannot be avoided, an accident at low speed gives a better chance of minor injuries.
The outcome of a dangerous situation depends largely on drivers’ reactions and the seconds remaining before a head-on collision. Even one second can help avoid an accident or save a life. If you’ve been in this situation, share your experiences in the comments.
How to avoid a head-on collision with a car
What causes severe accidents on the roads? Is it possible to avoid a tragic collision? Here are the tips given by professionals.
Any country road is dangerous – in particular, gradual habituation to speed .
If you drive for a long time on a low-loaded road, the monotonous ride causes relaxation – and the reaction time increases considerably. If the average complex reaction time – in a situation where you need to make an immediate decision – 1.5 seconds, then with prolonged relaxed driving it will increase to 4 seconds.
If a driver, starting a maneuver, does not warn in advance, he provokes the other participants to make sudden movements, – the expert explains. – And even if he, for example, turned on the “turn signal” in advance, his signals are seen by the driver of only one car, immediately following him. It sharply deviates to the side – and the third car sees an unexpected obstacle in front of it.
Therefore, according to experts, you should always pay attention to the signs – and be especially careful before crossing the road or joining a secondary road. Moreover, try to see the situation on the road not only through your windshield – through the glass of the car in front of you. Other business, if your car goes behind an SUV, a truck, a lorry – it is very important to keep as much distance as possible. The actions of this driver are absolutely unpredictable for us – he sees an obstacle, invisible to us, and brakes sharply.
Unexpected obstacle in the traffic lane
There are simple, potentially dangerous, extreme and emergency situations on the road. It means that in the latter case we shall not discuss how to avoid an accident – it is, unfortunately, inevitable. And the main thing is to choose the least of many evils. For example, if to compare frontal collision and driving down a ditch, the latter is safer.
Concerning the opinion, that it is “better” to crash into the car in front of you, than to run out into the oncoming car. If the turning car has already turned its wheels to the left – and most drivers turn exactly with turned wheels – the impact will throw it into the oncoming lane. That is – there will be the same serious traffic accident, but with the other participants, – says the expert.
And he recalls how as a result of a similar accident two years ago, the Russian actor Yuri Stepanov was killed. Standing at a traffic light “Zhiguli”, in which he was traveling as a passenger, was hit at speed by a Mazda. The car was thrown from VAZ into the oncoming lane, where it collided with another car.
Should one turn right? A driver, according to a professional opinion, should permanently scan the situation around his car, see every second what’s going on to the right/left, and evaluate the potential probability of a maneuver in advance. Because when he suddenly spots an obstacle in his lane, he may not have time to look in his mirrors.
– Let’s assume everyone is lucky – there are no cars on the right. The car will bypass the obstacle, the person behind the wheel will get off lightly. If there is an obstacle on the right, the driver will sharply turn to it and push the car out of the track, it will fly into the ditch and, probably, overturn. People will get hurt again. And God forbid, it happens in the city and the car will be thrown to a public transport stop.
Should one brake or not? The expert advises: theoretically, if there is any opportunity, one should brake.
– On the other hand, if the speed is very high, your braking may cause unpleasant consequences. For example, at extreme driving courses, they practice skidding at 60 km/h – i.e. with sharp braking, the car skids even at “city” speed! At 70 km/h, everything happens even faster, and the car is even more difficult to control. The driver, who is not able to get out of extreme situations on the road, will not be able to do anything with it, the car becomes undrivable.
If a car flies head-on
According to the expert, it is impossible to predict what a driver will do when an oncoming car moves into his lane.
Unfortunately, there are situations when the driver doesn’t have time to think. If a car on the opposite side moves into your lane in a split second – alas, there is no chance to avoid a collision. If you see it beforehand, you have time for maneuvers. For example, a driver sees a car driving in his lane. He honks his horn, blinks – the car still drives towards him. To avoid a collision, our driver decides to turn left – into the free (!) oncoming lane. At this moment the driver of the opposite car, who has fallen asleep at the wheel, wakes up, realizes that he is on the “oncoming” lane, and turns back into his lane. There is a head-on collision.
The rules of the road tell us: in case of danger, the driver should take measures to reduce speed, up to a full stop. So, braking or maneuvering?
In forward collision, the driver and the passengers are saved by the airbags and safety belt, – says the expert. – That is the impact which is predicted by the manufacturers, calculated during the design of the car. In other words, all the safety systems are specialized for the frontal collision. The hood and the engine compartment are the crumple part of the car, which dampens the impact. The engine in modern cars in such a collision is designed to go down, but not into the interior. The belt keeps the driver, the airbag “takes it”.
If you start maneuvering, most likely, there will be a side impact.
– What protects the driver in this case? A tin door. That’s it. Side airbags, if they are available, are efficient only in case of insignificant impact. Compare the “nose” of the car, which should “save” in case of collision with the frontal obstacle, and the tin roof, which will accept the collision with the side one, – advises the expert. Even in auto sport, according to his words, people die most often – at rally frame cars! – just from the side collisions.