Head-On Collisions Cause Several Traffic Fatalities on Kansas and Missouri Roads

A head-on collision on U.S. 69 in the early morning of Monday, November 14, 2011 took the lives of a 29 year-old Overland Park woman and her 9 year-old daughter, the Kansas City Star reports. An SUV driven by Heidi Lynn Adams in the southbound lanes of U.S. 69 in Overland Park apparently crossed the 60-foot median just before 6 a.m. and struck two pickup trucks in the northbound lanes. Adams’ two other daughters, ages 4 and 7, were also in the vehicle and survived with serious injuries. Drivers of the two trucks are expected to fully recover. Police have not released information as to what caused Adams’ vehicle to cross the median.

In a similar accident during the afternoon on November 14, a woman, also 29 years old, died in a three-car crash on U.S. 63 in Oregon County, Missouri, when her vehicle struck an oncoming truck and then another vehicle in her lane of traffic. According to the Springfield News-Leader, the Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Tiffany Smith on southbound U.S. 63 passed a Mercury Sable in a no-passing zone, hit a northbound Freightliner, then skidded into the Sable. Smith was pronounced dead at the hospital about two hours later.

The accident in Overland Park involved a multi-lane highway with only a grass median separating the north- and southbound lanes, allowing Adams’ car to pass into oncoming traffic unobstructed. Kansas officials had already been in the process of reviewing placement of median barriers after several accidents occurred on Kansas 10 between Johnson County and Lawrence. They are looking for “hotspots,” areas with a higher number of traffic fatalities than average where placement of cable barriers separating oncoming lanes of traffic could save lives.

The Star reports that the stretch of U.S. 69 where Adams’ accident occurred had 215 accidents and 57 injuries over a five-year period, but no fatalities. The overall accident rate for that stretch of road is a fraction higher than the statewide rate. Missouri officials claim cable barriers save up to 45 lives per year, but some traffic experts caution that cables can cause problems as well. A University of Nebraska traffic specialist consulting with the Kansas Department of Transportation states that cables can sometimes cut off car roofs, with the expected risk to the car’s passengers. The proper remedy for a given stretch of highway therefore depends highly on the specific conditions of that area.

Head-on collisions present special problems for the people they injure and their attorneys. They typically result from a car veering across a dividing line or median in the road, but the possible reasons for a vehicle to do so are numerous. Driver negligence is only one possible reason. A fault or defect in the vehicle could be the cause, which would place liability for damages on the car’s manufacturer instead of the driver. An oncoming vehicle’s driver may contribute to the accident by failing to take reasonable steps to avoid a collision. Road conditions, include the type of median barrier or lack of a median barrier, may also contribute to the situation by either failing to prevent damage or even worsening damage. Assessing damages in a case such as this requires careful review of all of these circumstances.

Kansas City auto accident attorney Doug Horn advocates safe driving and represents the rights of people who have suffered injuries in auto accidents. For a free and confidential consultation, contact the firm today.