Head On

Head-on crashes are generally the most severe of all vehicle crash types. The combined mass and speed of vehicles often result in serious or fatal consequences for vehicle occupants.

Even in the most modern cars, the chances of surviving a head-on crash at speeds above 70 km/h are greatly reduced. For older vehicles, or in collisions involving vehicles of different size, surviving such a crash is less likely at far lower speeds.

This crash type occurs when one vehicle leaves its path and comes into the path of the oncoming vehicle. There are many direct causes of head-on crashes including:

  • driver fatigue/sleepiness
  • alcohol/drugs/medication impairment
  • overtaking errors, including poor judgement of the approaching vehicle speed
  • misjudgement of curve severity
  • skidding or loss of vehicle control
  • poor delineation
  • driver distraction, including inattention due to vehicle occupants or mobile phone use.

Often this type of crash results from a steering wheel overcorrection, e.g. a driver veers to the roadside, instinctively turns the steering wheel to return to the road and travels across the carriageway. Therefore, ways to treat this crash type include treatments in the centre of the road, but also at the side. The chance of over-steering will be increased if there is a drop off between the road and the roadside or shoulder (an 'edge drop'), making it more difficult to return to the roadway. Excessive drop offs should be avoided.

Safer Roads
Estimated cost
Casualty Reduction
Central Turning Lane Full Length
Low
10-25%
Delineation
Low
10-25%
Intersection - Delineation
Low
10-25%
Central Hatching
Low
10-25%
Rumble Strips
Low
10-25%
Shoulder Sealing
Medium
25-40%
Speed Management
Medium
25-40%
One Way Network
Medium
25-40%
Traffic Calming
Medium to high
25-40%
Lane Widening
Medium to high
25-40%
Median Barrier
Medium to high
60% or more
Additional Lane
High
25-40%
Intersection - Grade Separation
High
25-40%
Duplication
High
25-40%
Realignment - Horizontal
High
25-40%
Realignment - Vertical
High
10-25%
Safer Vehicles
Estimated cost
Casualty Reduction
Vehicle Features and Devices
Low
60% or more
Motor Vehicle Standards
Low
60% or more
Used Car Safety Ratings
Low
60% or more
Vehicle Roadworthiness
Low
60% or more
New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)
High
25-40%
Safer People
Estimated cost
Casualty Reduction
Enforcement
Low
60% or more
Addressing Alcohol and Other Drugs
Low
60% or more
Education
Low
60% or more
Fatigue Management
Low
60% or more
Helmets and Protective Clothing
Low
60% or more
Seatbelts
Low
60% or more
Safe Speed
Low
60% or more
Publicity
Low
60% or more
Licensing
Medium
40-60%

Safer Roads

Safer Roads
Estimated cost
Casualty Reduction
Central Turning Lane Full Length
Low
10-25%
Delineation
Low
10-25%
Intersection - Delineation
Low
10-25%
Central Hatching
Low
10-25%
Rumble Strips
Low
10-25%
Shoulder Sealing
Medium
25-40%
Speed Management
Medium
25-40%
One Way Network
Medium
25-40%
Traffic Calming
Medium to high
25-40%
Lane Widening
Medium to high
25-40%
Median Barrier
Medium to high
60% or more
Additional Lane
High
25-40%
Intersection - Grade Separation
High
25-40%
Duplication
High
25-40%
Realignment - Horizontal
High
25-40%
Realignment - Vertical
High
10-25%

Safer Vehicles

Safer Vehicles
Estimated cost
Casualty Reduction
Vehicle Features and Devices
Low
60% or more
Motor Vehicle Standards
Low
60% or more
Used Car Safety Ratings
Low
60% or more
Vehicle Roadworthiness
Low
60% or more
New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)
High
25-40%

Safer People

Safer People
Estimated cost
Casualty Reduction
Enforcement
Low
60% or more
Addressing Alcohol and Other Drugs
Low
60% or more
Education
Low
60% or more
Fatigue Management
Low
60% or more
Helmets and Protective Clothing
Low
60% or more
Seatbelts
Low
60% or more
Safe Speed
Low
60% or more
Publicity
Low
60% or more
Licensing
Medium
40-60%

Did you know?

Median barriers physically separate opposing traffic streams and help prevent head on crashes.

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