Causes of Head-On Collisions in South Carolina

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Although head-on collisions make up only about 2% of car wrecks, they cause about 10% of fatal motor vehicle crashes. Many other victims are left seriously and often permanently injured.

These head-on accidents have different causes that are usually attributable to negligence. If you’ve been injured in a head-on collision in South Carolina, the Law Office of Taylor S. Braithwaite is here to seek justice for you. Contact our Aiken, SC car accident lawyer today.

What Are the Main Causes of Head-On Collisions?

Head-on collisions are typically the result of irresponsible drivers who neglect their legal duty to safely drive. Accident victims must prove exactly how the at-fault driver caused the crash if they wish to recover compensation. For that reason, it helps to understand some of the most common reasons head-on collisions happen, including:

Driving under the influence

Drug or alcohol use seriously impairs the ability of a motorist to safely operate his or her vehicle.

Even prescription medication can cause this, and the driver is responsible for making sure it’s safe to get behind the wheel. Poor judgment, diminished reaction time, and decreased mental clarity all stem from drug and alcohol use. From there, the driver can easily cross a double yellow line or even a median and crash directly into an oncoming victim.


Fatigued driving can be just as dangerous as impaired driving. The lack of adequate rest makes it difficult to accurately judge distances and delays reaction time to changing traffic conditions.

Every motorist is responsible for ensuring he or she gets enough sleep before driving. Certain drivers, like those of commercial trucks, are required by state and federal regulations to have a minimum amount of rest before they drive.

Unlawful passing

If the conditions are safe to do so and the law permits it, a driver can temporarily cross a broken yellow centerline to pass a slower-moving vehicle. However, many drivers incorrectly estimate the speed and distance of an oncoming vehicle in the other lane and attempt an unsafe pass. In other cases, the driver crosses over a solid yellow line where passing is not permitted. Either of these can cause a head-on collision.


Speeding is always dangerous, but especially so around curves. It’s more difficult for the driver to stay in his or her lane if the vehicle is driving at an excessive speed. Additionally, a driver may realize the automobile is driving too fast and overcorrect, which can result in a loss of control.

These scenarios can cause the driver to cross over into the path of oncoming vehicles.

Distracted driving

Anything that causes a driver to take his or her focus off the road may be considered a form of distracted driving. Examples include using the cell phone, talking to passengers, listening to the radio, eating, and engaging in other activities while attempting to drive. Every driver is required to keep all distractions to a minimum. A driver can be held liable for failing to do so and causing a head-on collision.

Unfamiliarity with the area

A driver who isn’t from the local area will be unfamiliar with traffic patterns and the exact direction to their destination. Although GPS devices can be helpful, they don’t always keep drivers from making costly mistakes. Missing a turn can cause a driver to panic and lose control of the vehicle. Confusion may also result if a driver turns the wrong way down a one-way street, something a driver with more familiarity with the area likely wouldn’t do.

How to Get Started With a Claim to Win Compensation

Head-on collision injuries are potentially life-threatening and will require serious medical treatment. The victim may be hospitalized for weeks or months and require the attention of numerous medical professionals. During this time, the victim will miss work, suffer intense pain, incur significant medical bills, and experience other losses.

To seek compensation for these damages, you should retain experienced legal counsel right away. Not only can your attorney begin investigating the head-on accident and building a case, but in doing so your lawyer can advise you how much your damages may be worth.

Part of this involves input from expert witnesses such as accident reconstructionists and medical professionals. These and other experts can explain, among other matters, how the at-fault party caused the wreck and how much in damages you should seek.

An attorney can also handle communications with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. It is not recommended that you speak with insurance representatives on your own since these individuals are trained to extract information that can later be used against you.

Let us handle both settlement discussions with the insurer and pursue a case in court, the latter of which will prove essential if the insurer refuses to fairly negotiate.

How to Avoid a Head-On Collision

Although you can’t control what other drivers do, you can take steps to drive defensively and reduce the chances of being a victim of a head-on collision.

These are a few ways to keep yourself safe:

  • Stay alert: Always be aware of other vehicles around you and keep an eye out for dangerous drivers. Avoid distractions so you can react to a dangerous situation.
  • Avoid unsafe passing: Only pass other vehicles when it is legal and safe to do so. Otherwise, always drive on the right side of the road.
  • Keep a safe speed and distance: Maintaining a safe speed and distance between yourself and other vehicles can increase your visibility. The more you can see, the less likely a head-on driver will take you by surprise.
  • Be mindful of road hazards: Hazards like potholes, parked vehicles, and closed lanes cause other drivers to swerve to avoid them. A driver can do so and inadvertently drive straight towards another vehicle.
  • Maintain your vehicle: Keeping your vehicle in safe working condition is critical to avoiding a head-on accident. For instance, your headlights should be working so oncoming drivers can see you at night.

Insurance companies will try to claim that you as the victim could have done something to avoid a head-on crash. Personal injury attorneys know this isn’t always possible in a split-second moment and can advocate for your degree of fault to be lessened or zero.

How State and Local Governments Can Reduce the Risk of Head-On Accidents

Preventing head-on collisions in South Carolina is something that road and public safety agencies can help with, too. These are a few ways:

  • Repaint pavement markings: In many parts of the state, double yellow lines and other pavement markings are faded and need immediate attention.
  • Curve warning signs: Since curves contribute to many head-on accidents, chevron signs and other curve warnings can help avoid them.
  • Centerline rumble strips: Rumble strips, which are already used near shoulders to keep cars from drifting out of their lanes, can also be placed on centerlines to avoid head-on accidents.
  • Wider medians and median barriers: Creating wider medians on new roads and installing median barriers on existing ones can prevent cars from crashing head-on into others.

Advocating for South Carolina Head-On Collision Victims

Don’t delay seeking compensation for your head-on collision injury claim. The experienced car accident team at TSB Injury Law is ready to serve you and your family. Reach out online to our attorney today to learn more, or call (803) 220-0000 to request a case evaluation.


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