According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a sideswipe collision is defined as a “a collision in which the sides of both vehicles sustain minimal engagements.”
Side-swipe accidents almost always happen when two vehicles travelling in a parallel manner — whether in the same or opposite direction — make contact with the side of one another’s vehicle. Side-swipe accidents are more or less universally associated with either an intentional or unintentional lane change.
Sometimes, a driver simply does not see another vehicle because of a blind spot, heavy rainfall, or other visual distractions. And in the worst cases, an intentional lane change can be deliberate or reckless in nature.
In general, when a sideswipe accident is caused by an unintentional lane departure, it’s likely that distracted driving, fatigue, or alcohol and drug use played a significant role. Furthermore, anytime a driver attempts to avoid an obstruction or head-on collision, the result can inevitably lead to a sideswipe crash. Vehicle malfunction or medical emergencies are among the least common causes for a sideswipe, but these factors can play a role in contributing to this type of accident.
The nature of a sideswipe can cause a driver to veer out of his or her lane and ultimately collide head-on with another vehicle or object. In fact, a side-swipe accident is often responsible for being the initial impetus for many multi-vehicle accidents.
Below are more common causes of sideswipe accidents:
- Speeding. It is easy for a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle when speeding or driving too fast for road conditions. Speeding is especially dangerous when driving through a construction or school zone because a driver may not have enough time to react to obstacles.
- Overcorrection. A sideswipe accident can be caused when an animal or child runs out in front of a driver. The driver may have no choice but to swerve into an adjacent lane and unintentionally hit another vehicle.
- Not Yielding. In some cases, a driver may merge into another lane and will not yield to oncoming traffic. Failing to yield can cause a sideswipe accident in the process.
- Reckless Driving. A driver who engages in frequent lane changes, tailgates, speeds or is overly aggressive can easily cause a sideswipe collision.
- Impaired Driving. It goes without saying that a driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol will have their depth perception and judgment impaired, which can result in a collision with an adjacent vehicle.