Rubbernecking refers to a driver turning to look at a car accident as they pass by. It is a serious form of driver distraction that contributes to thousands of motor vehicle accidents each and every year. Staring at an accident rather than keeping your eyes on the road ahead can lead to multi-vehicle crashes – especially when other drivers are doing the same thing. Rubbernecking is a dangerous type of driving distraction and all motorists should avoid it.
Rubbernecking Is a Significant Crash Risk
Driver distraction is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says even looking at a phone for a split-second is tantamount to driving blindfolded. A driver distraction is anything – inside or outside of the car – that take's the driver's attention from driving safely. Distractions behind the wheel can be of many variations.
A car accident or disabled vehicle on the other side of the road is a visual distraction. Rubbernecking means you are not looking at the road in front of you. You may not see the vehicle in front of you hitting its own brakes to also check-out the accident, or you may miss a light turning red. Rubbernecking could delay your reaction time enough to cause a preventable accident, such as a rear-end collision, pedestrian accident, intersection accident, or multi-vehicle accident. Rubbernecking is the equivalent of other dangerous driving habits, such as texting and driving, paying too much attention to your GPS while driving or talking on your phone while driving.
Rubbernecking is also dangerous because you will most likely not be the only driver the accident distracts. Opposite side of the road accidents are dangerous for all drivers passing through due to the likelihood of driver distraction. Even if you are paying attention to the road other fellow drivers might not be as responsible. A rubbernecking driver could crash into you while you are stopped, slowing down or trying to make a lane change. Be extra careful near a car accident site and expect other drivers not to pay attention to the road.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Slower speeds, driver distraction, and loss of vehicle control near crash sites can all cause further car accidents. Rubbernecking contributes to many accidents in crash zones in NYC each year. By engaging in rubbernecking, you could be putting yourself and others at risk. Recognize the dangers of rubbernecking as you would the dangers of texting and driving. Do your best not to stare at a crashed vehicle as you pass. Instead, pay attention to the road in front of you to prevent causing a second car accident.
Exhibit extra caution near a recent crash by slowing down and increasing your following distance from the vehicle in front of you.
Practice Defensive Driving
When approaching a crash site, drive defensively. Be aware of your surroundings and assume other drivers will break the rules. Assume drivers next to you are looking at the crash, not at the road. Do your best to protect yourself from an accident by reducing your speed, using turn signals to change lanes and being prepared to maneuver away from distracted drivers. You're your foot near the brake pedal and prepare to stop at a dime.
If you get into a collision because the at-fault driver was rubbernecking, they could owe you compensation for your injuries and damages. The distracted driver's auto insurance provider may compensate you for your property repairs, vehicle replacement, medical bills and/or lost wages. Speak to a NYC car accident lawyer if you need assistance proving that the other party was rubbernecking and that this is what caused your accident. Contact our office today!