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What is rubbernecking?



Quite some time since we last wrote. People have been asking what rubbernecking is so I thought perhaps we should explain here. Rubbernecking is the term used to refer to people craning their neck to peek at something of interest and has been linked with mostly morbid curiosity. Rubbernecking becomes a concern on the road and usually refers to drivers peeking at car accidents or problems at the road. The drivers will pass something and crane their necks to see it, expressing morbid curiosity often minutes after chiding others for doing the same. While this curiosity is a part of human nature, it is not as innocuous as it seems.

On the road, 16% of all distraction-related accidents are related to rubbernecking. This means that rubbernecking can lead to accidents with some frequency. Rubbernecking also slows down traffic and can affect traffic. Overall, rubbernecking can be a problem for the driver or other drivers.
Despite the fact that rubbernecking can be an issue, most people still engage in it from time to time. Why? One explanation is that people are just curious by nature. When we see something has happened, we feel the compulsion to check it out and evaluate whether it is a threat to us, for instance. While morbid curiosity is not always useful, our first instinct is usually to get a sense for what’s going on, which can result in rubbernecking, even if we had just been criticizing others for doing the same.

Some situations will allow us to get away with rubbernecking, but others can lead to serious problems for ourselves or others. Overall, it’s best to keep our focus and be aware of the possible consequences of rubbernecking. If we feel the urge to do this while driving, we need to be careful and mind our safety. While not looking out through the window can be dissatisfying, having an accident can lead to more serious consequences, so we need to be careful when indulging our curiosity.



Lee, L. (2004). 100 most dangerous things in everyday life and what you can do about them (1st ed.). Sydney: Murdoch Books.