Although the number of fatal head-on collisions reported each year may be less than 10% of the national total for all types of car crashes, it remains far too high. After all, in 2016, over 37,000 Americans died in vehicle accidents.
You can usually spot these accidents rather quickly since the front ends of both cars – even after they’ve been moved to the side of the road – are completely totaled. Windshields are often fully shattered and it’s hard to believe that any medical devices could have helped first responders remove the victims.
While it’s tempting to believe that little can be done to decrease head-on collisions and other accidents beyond punishing distracted drivers, we all have other options that can greatly increase our safety.
After reviewing two New York head-on collisions below that proved to be very deadly, new technologies that might help significantly decrease these types of accidents are briefly presented and discussed.
Obviously, both seatbelts and air bags can help protect us during head-on collisions. In fact, a 2009 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) publication indicates that people who wear seatbelts and have functional air bags may be 61 percent safer in certain types of accidents compared to others who don’t have (or use) those devices.
Fortunately, technology keeps moving forward rapidly, providing many new devices that can better protect everyone in head-on accidents. Among other systems, we can install a lane departure warning (LDW) system. It alerts you when your vehicle is suddenly moving out of your lane – and possibly in the direction of oncoming traffic. In fact, there are several different forms of this technology currently available.
Automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems can also help detect a potential forward crash into another vehicle – possibly alerting a driver to avoid or minimize damages in a crash. Both lane departure warning systems and automatic braking systems are discussed in further detail below since both can provide added protection to many drivers.
Additional facts about different types of lane departure warning (LDW) systems
As their name clearly implies, lane departure warning systems can alert you that you’re about to venture out of your lane. This type of car movement often occurs before a head-on collision – although other dangerous impacts can happen first. Depending on the exact system you’ve installed, you may be assisted by corrective steering and proactive lane centering. Another system is designed to alert you when another vehicle is entering one of your visual blind spots.
These systems are usually activated after installing an inexpensive camera that’s mounted on your vehicle’s windshield. It’s positioned right near the rearview mirror. It’s programmed to constantly monitor the road’s various striped and solid lane lines ahead (and to the side) of your vehicle.
If you want to be warned when your car is advancing forward improperly, to the side in a dangerous manner, or being threatened by a vehicle entering one of your blind spots, you should be able to purchase all these warning systems together for less than $1,000 (for many cars).
Of course, if you’re driving in an odd urban setting or many rural ones, there may not be any lane marking lines on the road to help provide the data your lane departure system needs to properly alert you. When buying this type of device, you’ll need to decide if you just want to be alerted when you’re approaching a lane line – or have already crossed one.
When properly installed and monitored, these systems can detect a potential forward crash and either help you completely avoid it or minimize any damage it causes. An AEB system will either simply sound an alert so you’ll hit the brakes– or it will automatically apply the brakes to prevent a serious crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) views these types of systems as part of the “next wave” of technologies that may significantly improve driver and passenger safety. The NHTSA also thinks that both dynamic brake support (DBS) and crash imminent breaking (CIB) may help many drivers avoid many rear-end collisions. These types of crashes frequently occur before a vehicle is rapidly propelled forward out of a lane – into the path of another car, causing a deadly head-on collision.
Different forms of both DBS and CIB have been available on some vehicles sold in America since 2006. It may be wise to always ask if they can be installed in any new car you plan to buy.