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Volume 20: A Guide for Reducing Head-On Crashes on Freeways

Freeways: Severe, head-on crashes and deaths are increasing

The Problem

Head-on crashes on interstates and other freeways and expressways make up a relatively small proportion of total fatalities, although they tend to be extremely severe. With higher traffic volumes traveling at high speeds, and narrow medians without barriers, median crossover head-on crashes are occurring with increasing frequency and deadly results.

In 2003 there were 366 fatal cross-media crashes on U.S. freeways, 8 percent of all freeway fatal crashes. And fatalities have been on the rise, too, numbering 680 in 2002. Data show that 56 percent of these type crashes occur on urban interstates and freeways.

There is no predominant cause of freeway head-on crashes. They occur at all times, days, and seasons on curves and straight sections.

The objectives of this guide and the related strategies focus on reducing the potential for cross-over crashes.


  • Keep vehicles from departing the traveled way
  • Minimize the likelihood of head-on crashes with oncoming vehicles
  • Reduce the severity of median barrier crashes that occur
  • Enhance enforcement and awareness of traffic regulations

Download this guide: Coming Soon

On Freeways

Driver behavior clearly is important, including everything from fatigue, inattention and medical emergencies to excessive speeding, erratic maneuvers, and improper lane changes.

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Recent Publications

Head-On Collisions on Freeways One-Pager

Self Assessment Tool

Integrated Safety Management Process