Broadside collisions, also called angle collisions or T-bone collisions, most frequently occur at intersections when the front end of one vehicle strikes the passenger side of another vehicle at a right angle. Broadside crashes are among the most treacherous and fatal traffic accidents.
Occupants of the vehicle broadsided tend to suffer the worst in the collision because cars usually do not have safety features that are as effective against a side-impact collision as they do for a front-end collision. In particular, seat belts and airbags aren’t as effective in preventing injury during broadside collisions.
In this blog post, we explore broadside collisions, including where they most commonly occur, why intersections are dangerous, and common causes of broadside collisions. Having an in-depth understanding of these deadly crashes can help you avoid falling victim to one when you travel on Washington’s streets and highways.
For more information after your broadside accident in Seattle call Boohoff Law and speak with a car accident attorney today to discuss your legal options.
Intersections are where motor vehicles cross paths most often, making them the most common location for broadside collisions. It shouldn’t be surprising that intersections are among the most dangerous spots on roads and highways. In fact, you might notice an increase in roundabouts at intersections because they keep traffic flowing smoothly, reducing the number of accidents. Some distinctive features related to driving through intersections increase their danger. These features include:
The mere existence of an intersection does not cause an accident–drivers make intersections dangerous. Negligent and careless drivers can make mistakes, get distracted, and make poor decisions behind the wheel, putting others on the road in danger. Researchers and engineers who study highways and roads give special focus to intersections, especially as it pertains to human error and how humans process information.
Safely driving through an intersection requires drivers to receive and process information to make appropriate maneuvers. The human brain can only sequentially process information one piece at a time. Intersections are complex situations that include huge amounts of information for the brain to process. Drivers who don’t process the right information at an intersection or process information in the wrong order risk causing a broadside collision or falling victim to one.
The U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is responsible for researching, monitoring, and regulating the nation’s roads and highways, especially in regard to safety. The FHWA dedicates millions of dollars each year to study intersections, which they refer to as “planned points of conflict.” Planned points of conflict are present in all of Washington’s road systems including interstates, state highways, county roads, and city streets.
According to the FHWA, about 20 percent of all traffic deaths and 40 percent of all traffic accident-related injuries occur at intersections, making them the agency’s focus to improve road safety. The FHWA also reports that almost 50 percent of traffic accidents that occur at intersections are angular or broadside collisions, making them the most frequently occurring type of motor vehicle accident at intersections.
When you include Washington’s rural areas, the vast majority of the state’s intersections do not have traffic signals, stop signs, or any other type of traffic control device. Uncontrolled intersections present extra danger and a greater chance for a broadside collision to occur. Yet, controlled intersections also have their share of accidents. This can be a result of careless drivers or poor engineering.
Engineers who design and build roads and city planners spend ample time considering the best traffic control devices for a particular intersection. Sometimes, planners make the wrong choice concerning signs and signals. The factors that influence traffic control device decisions at intersections include:
City planners and engineers who fail to place the proper traffic control devices at an intersection put drivers at a higher risk of broadside collisions and other traffic accidents. Other mistakes and planning failures that can also lead to a broadside collision include:
When drivers cannot see a stop sign or stoplight, they risk running the device and causing a broadside collision.
Most of the time, drivers need to make left-hand turns to reach their destinations. Left-hand turns are maneuvers most likely to result in broadside collisions, especially in uncontrolled intersections. Even minor intersections like driveways and parking lots can be sites for broadside collisions when drivers don’t carefully make a left-hand turn. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), over 53 percent of “crossing-path” accidents, including broadside collisions and T-bones, involve left-hand turns.
Many different scenarios might lead to a broadside collision at an intersection, including driver-related causes, mechanical failures, and environmental conditions. Some of the most common causes of broadside collisions include:
Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol can cause fatal traffic crashes, including broadside collisions. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, drivers who mix drugs and alcohol are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Prescription drugs, even when taken as directed by a physician, can also impair a driver and potentially lead to a broadside collision.
Drivers under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol might experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Distracted driving includes any activity that takes your attention away from the road, and it can lead to all types of traffic crashes, including broadside collisions. As previously mentioned, drivers need to process information at intersections to go through them safely. If they become distracted, they miss the information they need to process which can lead to a broadside collision.
Most people think of cell phone use when they think of distracted driving. Yet, Washington has some of the strictest distracted driving laws in the nation. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, drivers in Washington may only use a cell phone in their vehicle under the following circumstances:
Even when you eliminate texting and driving and other dangerous and distracting phone-related driver behaviors, many other things might distract a driver and cause a broadside collision. Some examples include:
Drivers who don’t get enough rest suffer similar impairments as those who use drugs or alcohol. Truck drivers and shift workers are especially at risk for fatigued or drowsy driving because of their demanding schedules. Even those who regularly work the night shift are going against their internal time clock, which can cause fatigue.
Others who share the road are at risk for a broadside collision when a driver nods off while driving or completely falls asleep. Some of the ways fatigue and drowsiness can affect drivers include:
Any of these can create the conditions for a dangerous and deadly broadside collision.
Drivers must slow their vehicles or completely stop when approaching intersections, especially when signals, stop signs, or other traffic control devices are present. Speeding interferes with vehicle control, making it more difficult for drivers to react to information coming at them as they approach and go through an intersection.
Speeding increases the odds that a driver will cause a broadside collision. To make matters worse, speed causes the impact of an accident to be much higher, which also increases the likelihood of debilitating and fatal injuries to passengers and drivers.
Visibility is crucial to avoiding a broadside collision when traveling through an intersection. The notorious rain and fog in the Seattle area can make it difficult for a driver to see an intersection, its traffic control devices, and other vehicles. Invisible intersections are extremely dangerous, especially when drivers must make a left-hand turn and cross oncoming traffic.
Drivers can increase their chances of seeing intersections in rain or fog by making sure their headlights are working properly and their wipers work effectively without creating streaks. You should replace wiper blades when they become too worn to clear the windshield properly.
Sometimes, the sun can blind drivers, and drivers should have sunglasses on hand and use their sun visors to block the light so they can see better. Drivers should always slow down and use caution when approaching any intersection and use their turn signals to alert other drivers of their intentions to turn or change lanes.
Most drivers exercise caution when driving a motor vehicle. They don’t operate their vehicles with complete disregard for the law and the safety of others on the road. Yet, young drivers and some irresponsible older drivers drive recklessly and aggressively. This might include excessive speeding, ignoring traffic control devices, running late yellow or red lights, and other dangerous maneuvers. When drivers intentionally ignore signs and signals at intersections, they have a high risk of causing a broadside collision.
You can take every measure possible to be safe on the road and avoid a broadside collision, yet you have no control over the actions of other drivers. If you experience a broadside collision, you should take as many of the immediate steps as physically possible:
If you suffered serious injuries in a broadside car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness, you deserve maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.
The attorneys at Boohoff Law have helped thousands of injured clients throughout the Seattle area following broadside accidents and other types of car crashes. We will thoroughly investigate your case and help you pursue the compensation you need. Contact our law firm at (877) 659-2417 or through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Seattle broadside accident attorneys.