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How can rubbernecking cause additional auto accidents?

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Every driver is familiar with the sight of a traffic slowdown due to an accident. Yet, what many fail to recognize is the phenomenon of rubbernecking, a seemingly innocent act that can snowball into additional auto accidents.

Rubbernecking, the act of craning one’s neck to view an incident on the road, is a form of distracted driving that poses significant dangers to both regular cars and commercial trucks.

Sneakily contributing to accidents

Distracted driving is a well-known menace on the roads, often associated with texting or fiddling with the radio. Rubbernecking, however, is a subtler and equally scary form of distraction.

When drivers divert their attention to observe an accident scene, their focus shifts from the road ahead to the unfolding spectacle. This diversion can be especially hazardous on highways where split-second decisions are important.

Neglecting the road

Rubbernecking drivers, in their curiosity, often fail to monitor their surroundings. This lack of vigilance can result in a domino effect of accidents with regular cars or commercial trucks.

For instance, a driver engrossed in observing a crash might not notice the slowing or stopped traffic ahead, leading to an increased risk of rear-ending accidents. The consequences increase when commercial trucks are part of the accident, as their size and weight amplify the impact of collisions. In fact, there were 415,000 large truck accidents reported to the American police in 2020.

Speeding through distraction

Another dangerous aspect of rubbernecking is the impact on speed management. Distracted drivers may not realize that the traffic in front of them has slowed down, and they continue at regular speeds, endangering themselves and those around them. This failure to adjust speed accordingly significantly heightens the likelihood of accidents.

In the quest for a clear view of roadside incidents, rubbernecking drivers inadvertently become contributors to the very traffic hazards they seek to witness. The solution lies in fostering a culture of responsible driving. By understanding the ripple effect of rubbernecking, people can work towards making the roads safer for everyone.


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