A T-Bone collision occurs when the front of one vehicle slams into the side of another vehicle (which creates the shape of a “T”). These collisions are also known as “broadside” collisions. These types of collisions frequently occur at intersections when one driver disregards a red light or stop sign and drives through the intersection at the same time as a vehicle approaching from the side enters the intersection.
In 2018, there were 1,162,000 passenger vehicle crashes where the initial point of impact was either the left or right side of the vehicle. This number is not the total number of T-Bone collisions as it also includes side-swipe accidents, where another vehicle’s left or right side collides with the side of the vehicle.
T-Bone collisions can produce serious injury and death. Passengers sitting in the seat closest to the side where the impact is made by the front of another vehicle suffer the brunt of the forces generated in the impact. Since the side doors of the vehicle generally provide less protection than the front or back of a vehicle, T-Bone collisions can produce kinetic energy that cannot be as easily absorbed by the vehicle taking on those forces. This is especially true where the vehicle that T-Bones the side of another vehicle has a large bumper or winch attached to its bumper which slams into the side door of the other vehicle.
The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration has created crashworthiness standards that include a Side Impact Laboratory Test Procedure for testing vehicles to determine their crashworthiness when the vehicle is involved in a left or right sided impact. These results are then published to indicate which vehicles can withstand the most serious side impacts. The data is also used by passenger car manufacturers to better design vehicles that can withstand greater forces, which in turn leads to fewer injuries.
The best way to avoid a T-Bone collision is to proceed with caution into an intersection regardless of whether your vehicle has the “right of way.” Defensive driving can save your life. Do not assume the other driver understands or cares that your vehicle has the “right of way.”