Driving Instructor Explains How To Avoid A Head-On Collision
Across Texas the average number of wrong-way deaths due to head-on collisions is up 29% for the period between 2015 and 2018 as compared to the period from 2010 to 2014. Texas also has the highest number of total wrong-way crash fatalities of all 50 states with 309 deaths between 2015 and 2018.
While those numbers may make you think twice before heading out on a road trip this summer, there are some simple, basic things you can do to avoid becoming one of the statistics.
ABC 13 in Houston recently sent one of their reporters out with a driving instructor to get some tips on how to avoid getting into a head-on collision.
First of all, safe driving instructors always remind us to buckle up and drive with our hands at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions on the steering wheel. There are reasons for this. It keeps both hands on the wheel for any quick steering maneuvers that may be needed, and it places the arms in the optimal position if you do get into a collision and your steering wheel airbag deploys. Placing one hand on the top of the wheel may be a cool looking way to drive, but if that airbag fires it's going to push that arm right into your face and cause an unnecessary injury.
It's also important to watch the road several vehicles ahead of you. If you're in traffic and you're only paying attention to the vehicle directly in front of you you won't have nearly as much time to react as you would if you were looking several vehicles ahead. If you're on a divided highway and there's someone coming at you going the wrong direction and you see them three or four vehicles ahead you'll have a lot more time to slow your vehicle down and get as far over to the right of the road as you can.
And there's the next tip, slow down and swerve to the right. Driving instructors will tell you to swerve right even if there's another vehicle in that lane. A collision with someone moving the same direction and nearly the same speed as you is not nearly as violent as a head-on collision combining the speeds of both vehicles.
Swerving right is also a natural response for American drivers. If the driver going the wrong way also swerves right you'll have a much better chance of avoiding the collision entirely. Once you're off to the side of the road and the threat has passed, call the authorities and report a wrong-way driver. Just wait until you're stopped to make the call.
Which brings up another tip for avoiding collisions in general, put the phone down. Seriously, just put the phone down. If someone calls you and your phone doesn't connect to let you talk hands-free through your car it will certainly take a message and you can listen to it later. Chances are it was just someone trying to sell you an extended vehicle warranty anyway.
Some of the primary factors in wrong-way drivers are impairment from alcohol or drugs, elderly drivers who get confused on multi-lane roads, and no passengers in the vehicle who might point out to the driver that they're going the wrong way.
About 70% of the wrong-way or head-on collisions in Texas take place between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., many of those with alcohol playing a factor. If you're not sure if you're OK to drive, you probably aren't. Go ahead and catch a ride from someone who's sober. You'll both be glad you did.