When people drive past Massachusetts car accidents, many slow down and try to look to see what is going on. Rubbernecking is a type of distracted driving. It not only leads to traffic jams, but it also can cause other accidents to happen.
Why do people engage in rubbernecking?
Since people have a natural fight-or-flight response as a part of their survival instinct, their attention is naturally drawn to signs of danger. This means that people instinctually are drawn to look at accident scenes when they drive by. However, doing so slows traffic and can result in accidents because people take their eyes off of the road when they look at collision scenes. Because of the risks involved, some emergency responders try to erect barriers to prevent people from rubbernecking as they drive by.
Why rubbernecking is dangerous
When people slow down and turn their heads to look at accidents, they take their attention and eyes away from the road. If they are traveling on a highway at 55 miles per hour, taking their eyes off of the road for just a few seconds means that their vehicles can travel for hundreds of feet without them watching. This might cause them to rear-end vehicles in front of them, drift into another lane, or run off of the road. Slowing down to look at a motor vehicle accident also makes it likelier that someone behind the rubbernecking driver might collide into their vehicles.
While rubbernecking might seem like a natural human behavior, it is dangerous. People should instead avoid doing this by keeping their eyes focused on the road ahead of them and resisting the urge to look at an accident. This might also help them to avoid other drivers who might be rubbernecking so that they can react in time to any dangers they might pose.