Safety Tips Driving safety Injury prevention

Use ‘the four R’s’ to help prevent head-on collisions

Photo: Scott Nolen

Head-on motor vehicle collisions are deadly. In 2019, they were responsible for nearly 30% of the 16,700 U.S. roadway deaths that resulted from crashes with other vehicles, according to the National Safety Council.

You can help prevent a potential head-on collision before it occurs. NSC has developed a lifesaving method for drivers to use: the four R’s.
Read the road ahead. Scan ahead to the top of the next hill, curve or intersection to recognize hazards. This’ll help you see and react faster if an oncoming vehicle crosses the center line. Also, check the shoulder of the road to see if you’ve got room to pull over. Watch the space between the left front tire of any approaching vehicle and the center line. If the spacing is becoming smaller, that vehicle may be about to stray into your lane.
Drive to the Right. Drive slightly to the right of center of your lane to create an extra space between you and other vehicles. On multi-lane roadways, leave one lane to the left open. When facing a head-on collision, drive right, onto the shoulder. Never swerve into the left lane. If the other driver instinctively pulls their vehicle back into the proper lane, you’ll have a collision in that lane.
Reduce your speed. If you see a hazard ahead, immediately reduce your speed. This gives you extra time and gives the oncoming driver time to recover and move back into the correct lane. Don’t slam on the brakes or swerve. And never stop your vehicle. If you stop completely, you may be struck from behind – and potentially pushed forward into the oncoming vehicle.
Ride off the road. If you have to choose between a head-on collision and riding onto the shoulder, your chances of survival are much better on the shoulder. If you must hit something, steer your vehicle to hit the object with a glancing blow rather than head-on. Every inch off center reduces the impact of the collision – and increases your chance for survival.


Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)