You know the temptation: While you drive past a crash scene, you want to glance over and discover what happened. But this impulse, called “rubbernecking,” is increasingly causing roadway accidents of its own. Make sure you know the dangers.
What Rubbernecking May Cause
“Blind” driving: Taking the eyes away from the road for well under five seconds when traveling around 88 kph is roughly the same in principle as driving the duration 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.
swerves and Sideswipes: When you’re not studying the road, your car or truck 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 your road through the accident. Drivers may feel “safer” to look over at a crash because their lanes aren’t obstructed, but in doing so, they often decelerate 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 using their phones. The Ontario Provincial Police and also other police departments are now issuing fines and tickets for this behaviour, citing driver distraction.