Ask a Trooper: What are ways to avoid head-on collision?

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Ask a Trooper — QUESTION:  I am wondering what the best procedure is when you find an on-coming car coming right for you.  If you steer to the left and have a passenger—you are probably putting them at great risk.  If you steer right, you’re probably the goner.  Is it best to just slam on the brakes then or what?

ANSWER:  Head-on crashes can be very deadly. The National Safety Council recommends “The four R’s” when trying to avoid a head-on collision:

• Read the road ahead
• Drive to the Right
• Reduce your speed
• Ride off the road

Let me briefly explain these. Reading the road ahead, means you are scanning, looking around your vehicle.  Look up to the next hill, curve or overpass to be aware of your surroundings and other vehicles.

Driving to the right means driving slightly to the right of the center of your lane on two lane roads.  This will put you in a position to be seen sooner by oncoming vehicles intending to pass and for you to be closer to the right for your “escape right”.

Reduce your speed for any hazard, including and especially oncoming vehicles in your lane, but don’t slam on your brakes unnecessarily.

Then, riding off the road means that you are not jerking the wheel and rolling over, you just steer that way and get away from the oncoming vehicle, but watch where you are driving, of course.

Please know that when avoiding a head-on collision, you should never steer to the left over the center line or into the oncoming traffic lane – always steer to the right. Also, never jerk the wheel as stated above, because you could lose control and roll your vehicle or worse. If you do have to drive down into the ditch/off the road, aim for something soft, not hard.  Hitting small trees or shrubs or brush is a lot safer than hitting a concrete object. If you have to hit something hard, try to hit it with a “glancing blow” instead of directly head on.

Other things that can help save your life or help with head on collision situations would include properly wearing the seat belt, driving with your headlights on at all times, driving the speed limit or to the existing conditions and paying strict attention to your driving.  Oh, driving sober helps a lot too!


4 Responses to Ask a Trooper: What are ways to avoid head-on collision?

  1. Chrissy Krebs says:

    I was involved in a head on collision that caused major injuries to my legs. My question is what is the best thing to do if there is no where to go on your right? In my wreak I was on a bridge that had no shoulder. In this situation would you so say that I should have tried to keep over to the right, which is what I did, but I’ve been told that in that situation I should have attempted to steer into the other car to broaden the impact so the force wasn’t all taken by me legs.

  2. Lawrence says:

    Evading the head-on by turning to the right subjects you to a T-bone accident and the low body protection that the door provides.

  3. markiza says:

    are you saying that a driver side t-bone collision is better than a head-on collision ? if so, how?

    the person above said they sustained heavy injuries to their legs; would that mean they locked their legs in straight position from the intense situation by slamming on the brakes, am I getting this right?
    Otherwise, you would keep legs bent and allow the thighs absorb the impact, which would not cause the damage to the legs, would that be right?

    I’d appreciate any input. Thank you!

  4. GeorgeG says:

    Markiza, I don’t believe Lawrence was saying that a “T” bone accident was better. He was making note of the lower level of safety protection in the door area versus a head on collision. Additionally it wasn’t that Chrissy’s legs were injured due to her locking her legs, it was most likely due to the front of the car being pushed back into the passenger compartment. The front tires, engine and other components are pushed reward and against the legs of the front seat occupants. One thing that helps to reduce injuries to the knees and legs are the addition of air bags that are now located near or under the front dashboard. unfortunately not all vehicles are yet equipped with these devices.

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