Head-on truck collisions are some of the most horrific accidents on Texas highways. In many cases, they lead to passenger vehicles crushed beyond recognition, trucks erupting into flames, catastrophic injuries, and fatalities. Unfortunately, these violent head-on collisions are not a rare event. They happen far too frequently. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), head-on collisions make up 31% of fatal truck accidents. Because head-on truck collisions are so devastating, having legal representation is crucial in recovering damages.
How Do Head-on Truck Collisions Happen?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a head-on collision is when the front end of one vehicle collides with the front end of another vehicle as the two are traveling in opposite directions. Two vehicles should never be moving in opposing directions, especially a large truck. But this happens more frequently than most would imagine. Head-on truck collisions usually occur in one of two scenarios:
- One vehicle crosses the median or centerline of a highway into an oncoming lane
- One vehicle drives the wrong-way on a single-direction road
Head-on truck accidents usually result in fatalities. The reason a driver might swerve toward oncoming traffic is often unknown; however, probable factors likely include:
- A distracted driver
- A fatigued driver
- An impaired driver
Because these crashes are so violent, investigating them can be difficult. Whatever the cause that leads a vehicle to drive onto an oncoming lane and crashing into a truck might be, the results will be disastrous for at least the driver of the smaller vehicle. A truck-on-truck collision is usually fatal for both drivers. If victims survive, the injuries they suffer can be life-altering.
There are vast differences in size and weight between trucks and passenger cars. A large truck can weigh anywhere between 10,000 to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded. In comparison, trucks are about 20 to 30 times as heavy as most cars. In a head-on collision, this massive difference in size is devastating for the smaller vehicle. If any drivers or passengers survive, they’re at high risk of suffering the following injuries:
- Crush injuries & amputations: A smaller vehicle that crashes head-on toward a truck ends up mangled beyond recognition. The car’s body gets crushed, which can trap the driver and passengers between the sharp metal that can sever limbs. These injuries are life-threatening and cause immense blood loss. If a victim survives this injury, they will likely suffer a lifetime of disability.
- Spinal cord injuries: The impact of a head-on collision with a large truck can severely damage the spine of drivers and passengers alike. The intense force exercised on the spinal column often creates structural damage that, consequently, presses or severs the spinal cord. That can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis.
- Back & neck injuries: High-impact collisions can severely damage soft tissues in the neck and shoulders that can lead to long-term complications. Crippling back injuries vary but include a slipped disc, fractured vertebrae, or herniated discs.
- Traumatic brain injury: Head-on collision with a truck will trigger airbags to deploy, but these crashes are so violent that airbags offer little protection. Drivers and passengers suffer forceful blows to their heads that can lead to swelling and bleeding inside their skulls, resulting in traumatic brain injury. Some victims recover in time, but many do not.
- Internal bleeding: The shock of a car-on-truck head-on collision is so forceful that victims often suffer life-threatening injuries to major organs that cause internal bleeding. Possible conditions include a punctured lung or a ruptured spleen, which can cause chronic health problems.
- Psychological trauma: Any victim of a head-on truck collision who survives will undoubtedly suffer emotional trauma for the rest of their lives. Severe anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder can require continuing mental health care and, often, medication.
No one ever expects to be in an accident, much less a head-on collision. While head-on truck collisions in Houston are unpredictable, there are precautions that drivers can take to avoid ever being in this horrific type of accident.
In many instances, head-on collisions occur on roads with only a centerline between opposite lanes of traffic. Whenever traveling on a long stretch of a two-lane road where large trucks often traverse – be extra alert and cautious before passing other vehicles. Driving at night or early in the morning on these roads can be especially hazardous, with a higher risk of encountering an impaired or fatigued driver.
Semi-trucks on the highway have blind spots on all four sides of the vehicle. The largest of them is on the passenger side that’s two lanes wide and covers the truck’s length. Be mindful of these blind spots when traveling in the same direction on the highway. Never attempt to pass a semi-truck in the lane to the truck’s right, and always move out of a truck’s blind spots as soon as possible.
Driving alert and prepared means you should never get behind the wheel when you’re distracted, fatigued, or on medication that makes you tired or impaired. Sometimes, head-on truck collisions result from road conditions. You can protect yourself against these situations by driving prepared with sunglasses, quality windshield wipers, tires with reliable tread, and bright functioning headlights.
If you or a loved one have suffered the horrific tragedy of a head-on truck collision in Houston, you may have legal rights to recover damages. A personal injury lawyer with experience handling complex head-on truck accident cases can look at the facts surrounding your accident and determine your rights to compensation. While not every collision leads to a substantial settlement for damages, many do. A truck accident lawyer can investigate your case and help you get justice through financial compensation to help you recover.
At Sutliff & Stout, our truck accident lawyers are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. They’ve helped truck accident victims recover tens of millions in their settlements and have the vast trial experience to take on even the most intimidating insurance companies. To speak with one of our truck accident lawyers over a free consultation, complete an online contact form or call today at (713) 987-7111.