On December 21st, two men (a 71-year-old and a 64-year-old) and a 13-year-old girl were killed when the mini-van in which the men were driving westbound reportedly strayed into the eastbound lanes of Highway 1 (about 20 kilometers east of Golden in the Kicking Horse Pass section of the highway) and was “T-boned” by the vehicle in which the 13-year-old girl was a back-seat passenger. The driver and two other passengers in the eastbound car sustained serious injuries.
On January 12th, two young men (a 22-year-old and a 27-year-old) were killed when the “Mustang they were passengers in crossed the median strip on the Pattullo Bridge and hit an oncoming Mazda SUV carrying a family of four.” (The Province, 14 Jan 05, A3) The Mustang driver sustained serious injuries; and the family in the Mazda, non-life-threatening injuries.
On January 15th, a 62-year-old man was killed “when the Buick he was a passenger in collided head-on with a Ford F-150 pickup driving west through Langley at about 6:40 pm.” (The Province, 17 Jan 05, A06) Reports indicate that the weather —falling snow—may have been a factor when the pick-up truck reportedly crossed over into the path of the oncoming Buick. The Buick driver sustained non-life-threatening injuries, as did the driver and two passengers in the pickup truck.
Head-on collisions are relatively rare, statistically—some U.S. statistics cite a figure of 18% of “noninterchange, nonjunction fatal crashes” as involving two vehicles colliding head-on — but also usually life-threatening or fatal to one or more of the people involved. The recent spell of bad weather may be partly to blame for the recent spate of such accidents. But, what is more likely is that they conform to the usual pattern: most head-on collisions result from a careless or disoriented driver straying from the lane designated for direction of travel. Other statistics indicate that the majority of head-on crashes occur on two-lane undivided rural roads. In nearly all cases, fatal head-on crashes occur in non-passing situations.
Roughly 91 percent of the vehicles involved in fatal head-on crashes on two-lane, divided roadways are related to vehicles either "going straight" (68 percent of the total head-on fatalities) or "negotiating a curve" (23 percent of the total). Comparable percentages hold for the rural roads. The result of these analyses is the following conclusion: most head-on crashes likely result from a motorist falling asleep, being distracted, or driving too quickly in a curve. Alcohol or speeding may also be factors. [http://safety.transportation.org]
To avoid head-on collisions pay attention to movements far down the road. Always be on the lookout for erratic behavior. Use full headlights, not just your running lights, to raise the visibility of a vehicle. Stay well inside your lane to ensure missing oncoming drivers taking blind curves more widely than they should.
Reacting to an oncoming vehicle in your lane is a matter of seconds. Slow down without losing control. If you must get out of the way, move to the right. And please drive safely.