Rubbernecking is something that might make us feel guilty, but it’s also an activity we engage in even if we do feel guilt. Rubbernecking is a logical consequence of our desire to know and be aware of our surroundings, so when we are driving, we might tend to try and peek at accidents or problems. Sometimes, we don’t fully notice we are doing this. Rubbernecking can be difficult to avoid, so how can you do this without getting into an accident?
Firstly, try to consider avoiding it. Making a conscious effort can help you reign in the curiosity. This is the go-to strategy if there is a dangerous situation on the road or if your rubbernecking can have serious consequences. If you’re tired, distracted, stressed, or anxious, rubbernecking will make you more distracted. If the road conditions or your own state are already less than ideal, try and avoid adding another risk factor to the mix.
If the situation is safe and you feel the pull to peek, do it safely. Be aware of the circumstances on the road. Slow down, if it’s safe to do so. If you are going to do this, make sure you do it while paying attention. Often, you will get the chance to rubberneck while traffic is slow or has come to a halt, since other drivers will also try to look at the problem. If everyone ahead of you is slowing down, it’s easier for you to do the same.
Keep your safety in mind when you are getting distracted. Remember that we are not good at multitasking – multitasking involves a quick switching between tasks, so when you are looking at an accident scene, you are not focused on your own driving. While the instinct to do so is natural, be careful.
Rubbernecking has been seen as a problem across countries, so some places have tried different solutions for it. Blocking the accident site by special barriers is one of the proposed solutions that has been proven quite effective. It seems likely that similar solutions will be adopted in other places too.