Where Do Broadside Collisions Most Commonly Occur?

Broadside Collision Occurs

A broadside collision or side-impact crash is a type of car accident where the side of one vehicle is hit by the front or back of another vehicle. The impact often forms a T shape, which is why these accidents are also called T-bone crashes. Broadside collisions most commonly occur in intersections, usually because of a negligent driver, and they are likely to cause serious injuries. If a driver speeds through an intersection, the resulting impact has the potential to be fatal. Additionally, cars do not have the same protection against crashes on the side as they do in the front. 

Statistics & Common Locations of Broadside Collisions

Broadside collisions most commonly occur at or in intersections. The design of intersections creates the perfect conditions for side impact collisions, especially when drivers are not paying attention/

Although intersections are designed to create the safest possible environment for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and anyone else using the intersection, they are also considered the most dangerous place on the road.

However, broadside crashes can occur anywhere on the road. Aside from intersections, they are also common on:

  • Highway on-ramps
  • Rural intersections where only one direction of traffic yields
  • Multi-lane roadways

According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), about 20 percent of all traffic deaths and 40 percent of all traffic accident-related injuries occur at intersections, making intersection safety a focus for FHWA. Additionally, almost 50 percent of traffic accidents that occur at intersections are angular or broadside collisions, making them the most frequently occurring type of accident at intersections.

What Causes Broadside Collisions?

Many factors contribute to broadside collisions, but the biggest one is driver error. This can mean driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, purposely driving recklessly or aggressively, or accidentally failing to follow traffic laws.

Running a Red Light

Ignoring a traffic light is the defining scenario for a broadside collision. If a driver tries to beat a red light, perpendicular traffic may start to enter the intersection as the negligent driver is speeding through. The driver may not realize what is happening in time and fail to apply any brakes, causing an intense impact on the vehicle that had right of way. The force of this impact can also push the vehicle into other vehicles, causing more injuries and further damage.

Failing to Yield Right-of-Way

It’s a driver’s responsibility to check the surroundings before turning across oncoming traffic or changing lanes. If they hit a vehicle with the right of way, it could be pushed into oncoming traffic, exacerbating injuries and damage. 

Not Stopping at a Four-Way Stop

Some drivers may not know what they need to do at a four-way stop, while others may disregard traffic rules altogether and roll through a four-way stop without stopping. This creates a textbook situation for a broadside collision to occur.


Drivers must slow their vehicles or stop completely when approaching intersections, especially when signals, stop signs, or other traffic control devices are present. Speeding interferes with vehicle control, increasing the odds that a driver will cause a broadside collision. Additionally, speed worsens the severity of an accident, increasing the likelihood that passengers and drivers will sustain debilitating or fatal injuries.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a major cause of accidents. Drivers who mix drugs and alcohol are even more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Prescription drugs, even when taken as directed by a doctor, can impair a driver and potentially cause a broadside collision.

Drivers under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol often experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Slower reactions to information, including traffic control devices
  • Difficulty short-term memory
  • Reduced hand-eye coordination, making it difficult to turn or steer
  • Lack of focus, making it challenging to process information found at an intersection
  • Difficulty judging distance and time

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving includes any activity that can take your attention away from the road, and it can lead to every type of accident. Texting driving is one of the most common causes of crashes in recent years, but many other activities can distract a driver:

  • Adjusting hair, applying makeup, and other personal grooming
  • Adjusting vehicle features, such as climate controls, mirrors, or the radio
  • Watching another event, often a traffic collision, outside of the vehicle
  • Having conversations with passengers, which is especially dangerous for rideshare drivers
  • Tending to children in the rear seat
  • Reaching for dropped items in the backseat or on the floor

Fatigued Driving

Drivers who don’t get enough sleep show similar symptoms to those who use drugs or alcohol. Truck drivers and shift workers are particularly at risk for fatigue or drowsy driving. 

Other drivers on the road are at risk for broadside collisions when a driver nods off or completely falls asleep while driving. Some of the ways fatigue and drowsiness can affect drivers include:

  • Slowing down thought processes
  • Making it difficult to appropriately react at an intersection
  • Impairing vision, judgment, and overall driving ability
  • Causing drivers to fall asleep at the wheel

Reckless & Aggressive Driving

Some drivers, especially young drivers, and some older drivers, operate their vehicles with a disregard for the law and the safety of others on the road. Reckless or aggressive driving behaviors include excessive speeding, ignoring traffic control devices, running late yellow or red lights, and other dangerous maneuvers, all of which carry a high risk of causing a broadside collision. 

Poor Visibility

Rain, fog, sun, and other conditions can make it difficult for drivers to see intersections, their traffic control devices, and other vehicles. Intersections with poor visibility are especially dangerous when drivers must make a left-hand turn and cross oncoming traffic.

Making sure your headlights and wipers are working properly and keeping sunglasses in your car can help you see better in poor weather conditions. Drivers should always slow down and exercise caution when approaching intersections, as well as use turn signals to alert other drivers of their intentions to turn or change lanes.

Trucking Accidents

Because trucks have larger blind spots and longer stopping distances, truck accidents are another common cause of broadside collisions. If a truck driver fails to observe a stop sign or red light owing to distraction, fatigue, or other factors, the vehicle can strike smaller cars that have stopped, causing a severe broadside collision.

The Impact of Broadside Collisions

The impact from broadside collisions is usually very forceful and often occurs in a part of the car where there is less protection, making the resulting injuries very severe.

Injuries from broadside accidents include:

  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
  • Amputation
  • Death

Passengers on the side where the impact occurred are more likely to sustain serious or fatal injuries. A National Institutes of Health study on side-impact accident severity found that left rear passengers were likely to sustain more serious injuries than the driver because drivers have more advanced safety technology. The study also found that the use of seat belts and other safety devices decreased the severity of injuries.

If you were injured in a broadside collision caused by a negligent driver, you deserve to be fully compensated for your injuries, property damage, and other losses. Working with an experienced car accident lawyer is the best way to ensure that you get a fair payout from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. After an accident, you should be able to focus on your recovery and not worry about covering the cost of your medical bills and other expenses.

Here are the steps to take after a broadside collision occurs:

  • Call 911: Regardless of the severity of the injuries you may have sustained, you should call the police and ask for an ambulance as well. Calling the police creates a documented record of the accident and any relevant evidence.
  • Get medical attention: Being seen by a medical professional as soon as possible is highly important for both your health and for your personal injury case, as it creates a record of all accident-related injuries.
  • Take pictures: Take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and property damage to be used as evidence later. 
  • Don’t speak to the insurance company: Don’t give the insurance company a statement until you’ve spoken to an expert car accident attorney. The insurance company will try to use what you say against you to blame you for the accident. You should not accept money from insurance companies until you’ve spoken with an attorney either, as they will offer lowball settlements that don’t cover all of your losses, especially future medical bills and lost wages. 
  • Contact a car accident lawyer: Hiring a lawyer who has experience handling broadside accidents and bringing them to trial if necessary will provide the best possible outcome for your case. Lawyers know the tactics insurance companies use to try to pay you less than you deserve, and they will fight for the full and fair compensation you need to recover and move forward.

Prevention & Safety Measures

Broadside collisions cannot be prevented completely, but there are things you can do to minimize your risk of being involved in one.

In addition to exercising extra caution in intersections, here are some other tips:

  • Stopping at all red lights and stop signs
  • Obeying the speed limit
  • Slowing down when weather conditions limit visibility
  • Following all traffic signals
  • Not counting on other drivers to follow traffic rules or stop signs
  • Paying close attention to the road and not engaging in distracting activities while driving

The design of cars and intersections themselves can also help prevent broadside accidents. Side airbags and curtains reduce injuries by protecting passengers on impact and spreading the force so it’s not concentrated in one area of a person’s body. Vehicle safety ratings are highly relevant when it comes to reducing injuries associated with side-impact crashes. Drivers in a vehicle with a “good” safety rating during a crash are much less likely to die than drivers in a vehicle with a “poor” rating during a crash.

One proven countermeasure to broadside collisions is creating roundabouts, which make intersections a circular hub with lower speed limits and single lanes instead of allowing multiple-lane streets to cross paths.

Know Your Rights After a Broadside Collision

If you sustained injuries after being broadsided by a reckless driver, you have the right to pursue compensation to cover your losses, including medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. An experienced lawyer can put a fair value on your damages and aggressively negotiate with insurance companies to get the payout you need and deserve.

At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our expert car accident lawyers know how to navigate complicated traffic laws and insurance regulations and deal with insurance companies to secure maximum payouts for our clients. We have years of experience handling car accident claims and filing lawsuits if necessary, and our clients are highly satisfied with the outcome of their cases.
We are available 24/7 to provide free, no-obligation case consultations. Contact us today to get the compensation you deserve.

About the Author

Michael Steinger
Michael Steinger

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MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.