Rubbernecking: Just Stop It

I was in the car the other day (I’m in the car most days), driving over to see my parents.  It was the middle of the day, and the roads are not usually busy to the point of traffic jams at this time on a weekday.  As we approached a stretch of main road, I noticed a traffic jam up ahead.  This was unusual for this time of the day, so I assumed that there were either road works or an accident.

Picture credit
Picture credit

After sitting in slow-moving traffic for a few minutes, it became apparent that the cause of the congestion was indeed an accident.  However, the accident had happened on the other side of the road, and actually, the cars involved weren’t even obstructing the road.  They were all tucked over onto the grass verge, where two police cars were in attendance.

So why on earth were we stuck in slow-moving traffic when the entire stretch of road was clear?  Rubbernecking.  The unnecessary slowing of your vehicle so that you can peer at somebody else’s unfortunate incident on the road.

I have never understood the lure of slowing your vehicle right down so that you can get a fleeting glance at a car wreck or someone’s broken, bleeding leg.  This act of rubbernecking itself is likely to cause you to do the very same thing, so why don’t people just have a word with themselves, and when approaching an accident, keep their eyes on the road ahead and keep driving?  Unless you’re going to stop your car and offer some assistance, absolutely nothing is gained by creating congestion and indeed danger by lack of concentration, on your side of the road, for the purpose of nosing at someone else’s misfortune.

Furthermore, how on earth would you feel if you were the person sitting in the car wreck, or if it was your broken, bleeding leg, and everyone was driving past slowly to gawk at you?  Pretty damn terrible, huh?

So this is a message to all of the rubberneckers out there.  Just stop rubbernecking.  If you see an accident up ahead, you’re unlikely to see any detail of what happened by slowing your car down to look.  You’re causing an unnecessary tailback by slowing the traffic down, which is plain annoying.  You’re never going to be helpful to the people involved in the accident by doing so, and you may just cause a further accident on your side of the road by not keeping your eyes on the road.  Put yourselves in the place of the people in the accident and just move on.  Keep your eyes on the road and keep moving.  Thanks.


6 thoughts on “Rubbernecking: Just Stop It

  1. Don’t they call it ‘bystander apathy’? Wanting to have a good look but not offering any help. I always look but only to check that there’s already an ambulance on scene, and if there is then I move along. It’s a weird psychological thing I think where people like to see others misfortune to make themselves feel better? x


    1. Yes, second that Spidermummy – checking that people are ok and ambulance on the scene. God, that reminded me of a recent experience I had of running out onto the road in the middle of the night after I heard a motorcyclist come off his bike at speed – big yikes! He was ok (apart from a broken leg). The worst was when I had to do CPR on a guy on the high street, and the local media were there with camera trying to pap this guy in full cardiac arrest!!! So vile. Anyway, I digress. People just seem to be morbidly nosey. It makes me want to get out and video all of the rubberneckers and the impact they’re having on the traffic situation. X


  2. You can call everybody in front of you a “rubbernecker”. As the driver behind you can do same. It just takes the one in front to cause everybody behind to slow down. So the vast majority of motorists have no choice but to slow down.


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