Sideswipe Accident in Pennsylvania — Know the Risks

Sideswipes are common forms of Pennsylvania car accidents. When they happen during highway driving, the ordeal can be shocking and considerably scary. And though it may seem like they aren’t exactly life-threatening, a sideswipe accident can have fatal consequences.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that 2010 saw over 7,000 sideswipe accidents and that 41 of those accidents led to the death of a driver, passenger, or pedestrian. That year, a sideswipe accident was the fourth most common accident in Pennsylvania, just behind rear-end accidents.

How Sideswipe Accidents Are Caused

There are many circumstances which lead to sideswipe accidents, some of which we will go through in this article. In most cases, sideswipes occur when two vehicles (car, truck, bus, or other) are driving side-by-side in adjacent lanes, heading in the same direction.

Here are a few examples of how a sideswipe can occur:

Changing Lanes

When one car changes lanes without first adequately checking to make sure the coast is clear, he or she may swipe a car which was driving in a blind spot.

Distracted Driving / Texting While Driving

There is also the possibility that a driver will stop paying attention to the task at hand. In these moments, drivers may become fixated on something else — a daydream, the radio dial, or their cell phone. An accident caused by someone paying more attention to their phone than to the road is an example of distracted driving, and it is currently a very serious problem in the U.S.

To read more about the issue of distracted driving in Pennsylvania, check out these Carpey Law articles:

  • Pennsylvania’s Ban on Texting While Driving Officially Takes Effect


As with all forms of car accidents, intoxication (drunk driving) is a major cause of sideswipe accidents. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reports that there were exactly 12,426 drunk driving accidents in 2010.

Just as with driver distraction, a drunk driving sideswipe accidents is often caused when a driver begins to drift into the next lane. The other driver, often unable to move out of the way, is struck by the vehicle.

Lanes Merging

Lastly, a common form of sideswipe accident occurs when two lanes merge. This happens when one driver either wasn’t expecting the merge or is speeding up to get ahead of the adjacent driver. He or she doesn’t have enough room and the two cars collide.

Sideswipes Can Lead to Worse Accidents

One of the major dangers of a sideswipe collision is that sometimes the car being swiped is knocked into another lane, barrier, guardrail, or off the road. The outcome can be unpredictable. The car could strike a fixed object, pedestrian, or another car, causing an even larger highway accident.

There is much and more to consider when it comes to sideswipe accidents in Pennsylvania, so every driver should do his or her best to avoid these crashes.

Don’t drive drunk.
Don’t drive while distracted.
Always check thoroughly before you change lanes 

To read more about common car accidents and how to avoid them, read through the many articles found on the Carpey Law website. Our blog category page outlines our article subjects and the search field on your right can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Also, check out Stuart A. Carpey’s books to read about Pennsylvania car accidents from the perspective of a skilled personal injury attorney. Click here to order Stuart’s free books.