Cross over accidents are the scariest of all accidents. When one vehicle crosses the center line and strikes an oncoming vehicle, the impact is significant because of the combined speed of both vehicles. When a vehicle is struck from behind, the target vehicle is usually stopped and the impacting vehicle is moving at whatever rate of speed it happens to be moving immediately prior to impact. The force of the impact is based on the speed of the striking vehicle. If the vehicle is moving at twenty-five miles per hour, that is the force with which the stopped vehicle will be struck.
When two vehicles collide head-on, both are moving directly towards each other, so the impact force is based on the speed of both vehicles combined. If both vehicles are moving at twenty-five miles an hour, the impact force is based the combined speed of the two vehicles. One vehicle traveling at twenty-five miles per hour may not seem like a very fast pace, but it is a significant enough speed to cause significant damage and injury. Doubling that speed in a head-on collision greatly increases the probability of significant damage and injury.
Further increasing the likelihood of injury is the manner in which the vehicles collide. When two vehicles collide head-on, they don’t normally strike each other exactly center point to center point. More often they collide in what is called an offset impact. This means that only a part of the front of each vehicle is involved in the impact. Normally the driver’s side of one vehicle will strike the driver’s side of the other vehicle because the driver of each vehicle is seated in the car in the location closest to the center line of the road or freeway.
This is very bad for the driver’s of both vehicles because the force of the impact is focused on the section of the vehicle they occupy, leading to an enhanced potential for injury. In recent years testing on vehicles in offset head-on collisions has been conducted to document the nature of this type of collision and the resulting vehicle damage and injury potential.
Who is at fault in this type of accident is often very easy to determine. Where one vehicle is traveling within it’s own lane of travel and another crosses out of it’s lane of travel and strikes the other vehicle, the driver crossing the center line is at fault. The fault is actually so clear that courts consider it to be “negligence per se,” which means that it is negligence on it’s face without the necessity of further proof of fault on the part of the crossing driver.
Proving this type of claim is therefore fairly easy unless there is an excuse for what the negligent driver did, such as the sudden onset of a medical condition or if the driver crossed the center line in response to an outside cause, such as another driver or pedestrian making an incursion into their lane of travel.
In Arizona, there are ways of trying to prevent cross over accidents. From gauged wire on posts that separate both directions of traffic, to concrete median blocks that are put in place. The I10 Freeway in Arizona has implemented various kinds of protection against cross over accidents, but unfortunately they do still occur.