ASK A TROOPER by Sgt. Jacalyn Sticha, Minnesota State Patrol
Avoiding Head-on Collisions
What do I do when an oncoming vehicle is in my lane and coming right at me?
Head-on crashes can be very deadly. The National Safety Council recommends
“The four R’s”:
Read the road ahead
- Right - Drive to the Right
- Reduce your speed
- Ride off the road
Read the road by scanning and staying aware of your surroundings so you can have the maximum amount of time for controlled evasive actions. Look ahead for hills, curves, overpasses or anything unusual, again, minimizing panic reactions.
Drive to the right of your lane, on a two lane roadway, toward the fog line. This will put you in a position to be seen sooner by oncoming vehicles intending to pass and closer to your “escape right.”
Reduce your speed for hazards, do not exceed speed limits and drive for conditions. Again, reducing speed gains you time and control, but it also reduces the force of impact if a collision does occur.
Riding off the road means steering, deliberately and carefully, away from the oncoming vehicle, off the road if necessary, while watching your path and maintaining control.
Do not steer over the centerline into oncoming traffic. When driving off the roadway, aim for something soft, like small trees or brush and try to hit solid/heavy objects with a “glancing blow” instead of directly. This much control can be had much of the time, but it is imperative that you are paying attention to the job of driving. Being properly buckled allows the airbags and engineering to do their job, but it will also keep you positioned behind the steering wheel.