What Should I Know About Head-On Truck Collisions?

November 11, 2020

An average semi-truck carrying cargo can weigh anywhere between 35,000 and 80,000 pounds. Serious injuries can occur when these large commercial trucks are involved in head-on truck accidents with smaller vehicles. Since large trucks are hard to avoid, all drivers should learn more about why head-on truck accidents happen and what do to if they do occur.

Why Do Serious Injuries Occur in Head-On Collisions?

In 2017, more than 4,700 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks, and 63 percent of those wrecks involved other vehicles. There are a few factors that make head-on truck accidents so deadly:

Speed: The force of impact multiplies exponentially as speed increases. If a truck driver does not have enough time or distance to slow down, the likelihood of injuries is high.

Size and Weight: In a multi-vehicle crash, the momentum and force increases with the size and weight of the vehicle. When a truck collides with a car, the passengers’ bodies absorb a great deal of this force. Individuals not wearing seat belts can be thrown against the interior of the vehicle or even ejected out of it.

Location of Impact: The average commercial tractor trailer is around 13.5 feet tall. In a head-on wreck with a vehicle that is lower to the ground, a truck may actually run over the other vehicle, causing an override accident. Override truck accidents cause debilitating or even fatal head, neck, and spinal cord injuries.

What Causes Head-On Truck Crashes?

Head-on collisions happen for a variety of reasons. Some involve equipment problems or defective parts, and human error is to blame for others. Here are the most common causes of head-on truck accidents:

Aggressive Driving

Any willful unsafe driving actions that endanger lives and property, including speeding, running red lights, turning without signaling, and tailgating, is considered aggressive driving. If one should encounter an aggressive driver, it is never a good idea to engage with them.

Delivery Deadlines

The average trucker drives between 2,000 and 3,000 miles each week. Federal law regulates the amount of time drivers can spend behind the wheel. If there are delays with dispatchers, shippers, or loaders, drivers must make up that difference to get their goods delivered on time. They may speed, drive aggressively, and skip rest breaks to meet delivery deadlines. All of these shortcuts endanger the lives of others sharing the road.


Looking away from the road or taking hands off the wheel for only two to three seconds is enough to cause a head-on truck crash. Drivers get distracted by looking at their phones, eating behind the wheel, or reaching down for something on the floors of their cabs.

Drugs and Alcohol

Trucking companies require drivers to do drug and alcohol tests, but often, these programs are not efficient. Truck drivers under the influence of legal and illegal substances are dangerous.


Fatigue is a real problem in the trucking industry. Considering that fatigue alters a person’s ability to focus, make decisions, and react quickly, this is especially concerning. Truck drivers need to recognize when they are drowsy and take breaks.

Mechanical Failures

Truck safety depends on all the different parts and systems working efficiently. To prevent blowouts and other mechanical problems, trucks should be inspected before each and every trip with more extensive maintenance scheduled on a regular basis.

Medical Problems

The sedentary lifestyle that comes with long hours behind the wheel increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. A driver suffering a medical emergency can easily lose control of their truck and collide with oncoming traffic. A healthy diet, exercise, and good sleeping habits should be priorities for all truck drivers.

Poor Road Conditions

Construction, detours, potholes, and other roadway defects all create hazards that truck drivers must avoid. Hazardous road conditions make a driver’s path more treacherous and can cause a tractor trailer to lose control.


Weather is a factor in many head-on truck crashes. Wet and icy roads reduce traction and cause hydroplaning, even for vehicles as heavy and as imposing as commercial tractor trailers. Snow and fog cut visibility, and extreme winds can topple cargo onto traffic below. It is the trucker’s responsibility to adjust their driving behavior according to the weather.

Reckless Drivers

Large trucks need more time and distance than smaller vehicles. When a car suddenly drives in front of them or slams on their brakes, a trucker does not have the time to avoid a collision. Their immediate reaction may be to swerve into the next lane, causing a head-on collision.

What Injuries are Common in Head-On Truck Accidents?

Some common injuries caused by head-on truck collisions include:

  • Amputations
  • Broken bones
  • Dental injuries
  • Facial damage
  • Internal organ damage
  • Paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)

Beyond physical injuries, truck accident survivors often experience emotional trauma as well. Anxiety, sleeplessness, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common conditions after head-on truck accidents.

What to Do After a Head-On Truck Accident

A victim should know what steps to take after a head-on truck collision:

  • Assess everyone at the scene for injuries and call emergency services.
  • Make a police report to document the accident details and record eyewitness accounts.
  • Document the accident scene with photographs of vehicle damage, road hazards, and other clues.
  • Contact an experienced lawyer for guidance before taking any further steps.
  • Do not speak to the insurance company until consulting with a lawyer.

The steps one takes after a head-on truck accident can impact a future legal claim and financial compensation. While it is always important to be honest and forthright about the details surrounding a traffic accident, it is also wise to proceed with caution and utilize the expertise of a lawyer.

Can I Sue the Truck Driver?

If a truck driver’s negligence caused a head-on crash, an injured party can claim for damages. Truck accident cases are complex and can involve many different parties. For example, the trucking company may be at fault if they failed to repair or maintain equipment. If a pothole caused the trucker to lose control, the municipality could be responsible. It takes a skilled lawyer to review a case and determine how and why an accident took place.

An injured party can sue for medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses to compensate for all of the ways an accident impacted their life. Litigation is an essential tool to hold reckless trucking owners and operators accountable.

Virginia Beach Truck Accident Lawyers Fight for Victims Injured by Reckless Truck Drivers

If you were hurt by a reckless truck driver and need legal help, one of our trusted Virginia Beach truck accident lawyers can help you. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, our team understands how and why head-on truck accidents occur, and we can help you get compensation. Call us at 757-352-2237 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.

381 Edwin Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Ph: 757-352-2237 | Fax: 757-352-2220

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