Resist the Urge to Rubberneck

Resist the Urge to Rubberneck bb3 Jul 30, 2014

By Staff Writer

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two car accident on a city street

You know the temptation: As you drive past a crash scene, you want to glance over and determine what happened. But this impulse, called “rubbernecking,” is increasingly causing roadway accidents of its own. Make sure you understand the dangers.

What Rubbernecking Can Cause

  • “Blind” driving: Taking your eyes away from the road for as little as five seconds when traveling around 88 kph is roughly the equivalent of driving the length of a football field — blindfolded.
  • Slowed traffic: While you should always drive carefully around a crash site, slowing down causes drivers behind you to do the same and adds to the gridlock. Stay alert to law enforcement officials who may be directing you. 
  • Rear-end collisions: As traffic slows and snarls, the distance between cars decreases. When you — or other drivers — aren’t paying close attention, the combination can lead to rear-end collisions.
  • Sideswipes and swerves: When you’re not looking at the road, your vehicle can drift out of your lane. Even a brief distraction may cause you to overcorrect.
  • Opposite lane crashes: Rubbernecking can also occur on the opposite side of the road from the accident. Drivers may feel “safer” to look over at a crash because their lanes aren’t obstructed, but in doing so, they often slow down and may contribute to an additional accident on their side of the road.

What’s Being Done
Some drivers today combine two dangerous distractions: rubbernecking and taking photos or videos of crash sites with their phones. The Ontario Provincial Police and other police departments are now issuing tickets and fines for this behaviour, citing driver distraction.