Compared to other trucking accidents in Canada, head-on collisions are rare. Head-on truck collisions usually occur when a truck or another vehicle crosses the centerline and collides with oncoming traffic. These accidents also happen when a vehicle travels on the wrong side of the roadway.
While head-on collisions are rare, they are some of the deadliest accidents in Canada. Head-on collisions involving large trucks can leave victims with permanent disabilities. Some people do not survive these collisions.
There are many different causes of head-on truck accidents, but most of them occur because of driver negligence. However, some of these collisions happen due to unsafe road design and improperly maintained traffic signals or road signals. When someone becomes a victim of a head-on collision, they may need the assistance of an experienced truck accident lawyer to help them pursue fair compensation for their injuries and losses.
Causes of Head-On Truck Collisions
The vast majority of head-on collisions involve one driver traveling on the wrong side of the roadway or highway. This may happen when the driver crosses the centerline or begins to drive in the opposite direction of traffic.
Most wrong-way driving accidents are due to a driver’s negligence. However, there may also be other causes and contributing factors. Some of the most common causes of head-on crashes involving large trucks include:
While most drivers understand that driving while distracted is bad, many see no harm in sending or reading text messages. However, getting distracted for just a few seconds to send a text can result in a devastating head-on accident. However, texting while driving is not the only distraction that can lead to preventable collisions. A driver who does not pay attention to the road for any reason may drift across the centerline and collide with oncoming traffic.
Alberta’s distracted driving laws make it illegal in the province to use cell phones or other handheld electronic communication or entertainment devices, even while stopped at red lights.
Driving while impaired
Impaired driving causes head-on truck collisions every year. Many drivers of trucks and cars get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and drug impairment hurt a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Intoxication can impair the driver’s judgment, slow reaction, and affect vision. As a result, an intoxicated driver may not realize that he is driving the wrong way until a collision occurs. It is against the law to drive any vehicle while intoxicated, especially commercial trucks.
Driving while fatigued
Sleep deprivation and driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as impaired driving. A fatigued or drowsy driver may fall asleep behind the wheel, which may cause their vehicle to veer into oncoming traffic and result in a devastating head-on collision. Unfortunately, truck drivers spend long hours on the road and sacrifice sleep to increase their profits. This means many sleep-deprived and fatigued truck drivers on our roads.
A driver may be confused when operating a vehicle on unfamiliar roads. A confused motorist may end up driving the wrong way, increasing the risk of a head-on accident. Lack of experience, fatigue, alcohol or drug impairment, distractions, or other reasons may confuse a driver. No matter why the driver becomes confused while operating a vehicle, their confusion puts themselves and other people on the road at risk of injuries.
Unfortunately, many drivers exceed the speed limit or drive too fast for conditions. Speeding increases the risk of head-on truck collisions because the driver might not maintain control of the vehicle and may, as a result, cross the median line and crash into oncoming traffic. When a head-on collision occurs at a high rate of speed, the risk of catastrophic injuries and fatalities increases significantly.
According to Canadian government data, speeding and driving too fast was a contributing factor in 23 percent of all fatal collisions in Canada in a recent year.
A large percentage of head-on accidents occur on two-lane roadways where drivers must enter a lane of oncoming traffic to pass a slow-moving vehicle traveling the same direction. Passing is always dangerous, even when the driver takes all precautionary measures. However, if a driver recklessly attempts to pass another vehicle, a head-on collision may occur with a vehicle in an oncoming traffic lane.
Some head-on collisions happen when a driver loses consciousness or suffers a heart attack while behind the wheel. The medical episode can cause the motorist to veer into oncoming traffic, resulting in a head-on crash. If the trucking company knew about the trucker’s medical condition that made him likely to lose consciousness or suffer a heart attack while driving, you can hold the driver and the company liable for the collision.
Vehicle defects or equipment failures may also result in preventable head-on accidents. A mechanical failure can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, forcing the driver to veer into oncoming traffic and crash into another vehicle head-on. Common mechanical failures that may lead to head-on collisions include steering problems, blown tires, brake failures, and others.
Inclement weather conditions may also result in head-on truck collisions. Such conditions as fog, rain, and snow may diminish visibility on the road and affect the driver’s ability to control the vehicle.
No matter what causes a head-on crash involving a large truck, the collision can have devastating consequences for everyone involved. Trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which makes collisions with these massive vehicles deadly, especially when vehicles crash front to front.
If you or your loved one was involved in a head-on truck accident, consider contacting a lawyer to help you explore your options for compensation.
Who Can I Hold Responsible for a Head-On Truck Collision?
As with any other truck accident, there may be multiple liable parties.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding a head-on truck collision, you might pursue these parties for compensation:
- The truck driver. You can hold a trucker liable for a head-on collision if their negligence led to the collision. For example, if the driver crossed the centerline because of their drowsiness or alcohol intoxication, the trucker will be responsible for any resulting accidents.
- The other driver. Truck drivers are not at fault for all truck accidents. Other drivers may also be negligent. When the other driver fails to obey traffic laws and causes a head-on collision with a truck, that driver will be liable for the accident.
- The trucking company. Trucking companies may also share fault for collisions caused by their drivers, especially if its negligence contributed to the head-on crash in any way (e.g., the company hired an unqualified truck driver).
- Auto mechanics. If a head-on truck accident happened because of inadequate maintenance of the vehicle, auto mechanics who inspected the vehicle can be responsible for the accident if the collision was due to a mechanical failure that they did not discover during the inspection.
- Manufacturer of the vehicle or its parts. Sometimes, truck accidents occur because of faulty equipment or defective vehicle parts. When this happens, you can hold the manufacturer of the defective vehicle or equipment liable for the collision.
- Cargo loaders. If the head-on accident was because of improperly loaded or secured cargo (e.g., unbalanced loads caused the trucker to lose control of the vehicle and cross the centerline, crashing into a vehicle from oncoming traffic), cargo loaders can be responsible.
In some cases, there may be multiple at-fault parties. Investigating what caused the head-on truck collision and gathering evidence may be challenging for someone focusing on their medical treatment. For this reason, a victim might need to contact a truck accident lawyer to help them investigate the crash and identify liable parties through a comprehensive investigation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Head-On Truck Collisions
What are the most common injuries in head-on truck accidents?
No matter what causes a head-on collision with a truck, occupants of passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, and bicyclists are prone to catastrophic and life-threatening injuries. The force of impact in a truck crash can be so devastating that even airbags and seatbelts may not be effective in protecting other vehicle occupants from severe injuries.
Some of the most common injuries suffered by victims of head-on truck collisions include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Loss of a limb
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Whiplash injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Severe burns
- Crush injuries
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
Unfortunately, a relatively large percentage of head-on accidents result in deaths. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), approximately three in 10 occupants of passenger vehicles die in head-on accidents involving large trucks. When a head-on truck collision results in death, surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages and hold the at-fault party liable.
Where are head-on truck collisions more likely to occur?
While a head-on collision may occur anywhere, some places make accidents where vehicles crash front to front are more likely to happen:
- Highways without a median barrier separating opposite traffic. Since the highway has no median barrier, nothing stops the truck or another vehicle from crossing the centerline and colliding with oncoming traffic.
- Narrow roadways. Truckers may drive on some narrow roads in Canada. Operating a truck on a narrow road increases the risk of a head-on crash.
- Curves. Many head-on truck collisions occur on curves in the road due to limited visibility. When a driver navigates a curve, the driver cannot see if any vehicles are coming in the opposite direction. Because trucks require extra space when performing turns, head-on collisions are likely to occur on curves.
- One-way streets. Some head-on accidents occur due to a vehicle traveling the wrong way on a one-way street. For example, a driver may not notice the one-way traffic sign.
Regardless of how and where your truck collision occurred, you might be entitled to compensation if you can prove the other party’s fault.
How to prove fault after a head-on accident involving a large truck?
In most cases, the driver who crossed the centerline or was driving the wrong way is at fault for the head-on collision. However, there may be exceptions to the general rule. When determining liability after a truck crash, the injured party needs to gather evidence proving the other party’s negligence to obtain compensation. A skilled motor vehicle accident lawyer can help the injured victim collect all available pieces of evidence to support their case and prove the other party’s fault.
What evidence do you need to prove fault after a head-on truck collision?
While not all of the evidence mentioned below may be available after your collision, it is critical to gather as many pieces of evidence as possible to support your case:
- Photos showing the position of the vehicles at the scene of the accident
- Photos showing the extent of damage to the vehicles
- Photos showing skid marks
- Witness statements
- Surveillance footage
- Black box data from the truck
- Records obtained from the truck driver’s employer (the trucking company)
- Truck inspection and maintenance records
If you suffered injuries in a head-on truck crash, consider contacting a skilled injury lawyer to collect and preserve all available pieces of evidence in your case. An accident lawyer will launch an investigation immediately before the trucker or trucking company has a chance to tamper with or destroy evidence in an attempt to avoid liability. Your accident lawyer will review your unique case and advise you on your legal remedies, which can help you on your path forward following a head-on truck crash.
Contact a the experienced truck accident attorneys at MNH Injury Lawyers to get the legal help you and your family deserve.