I was monitoring RTTI or Real Time Traffic Twitter accounts yesterday and read a new name for an old problem, that I hadn’t heard of before. Down Under we call them rubberneckers. It’s the same result though. Frequently when there is a bad accident on a freeway, it’s people driving on the other side in the other direction that slow down for a look that often causes more problems than the accident itself. In fact I would question, if someone has a nose-to-tail because they were looking at another crash, is it actually an accident?
Not long ago there was a five car nose-to-tail crash on an Auckland motorway. Police and emergencies managed to keep one lane flowing and traffic was moving pretty well. In the opposite direction traffic was almost at a standstill. The reason was because of people slowing down to look at the crash. Frequently in those sorts of conditions there are secondary crashes, caused purely because of people’s innate curiosity. Then of course the situation gets worse.
This happens around the world all the time. People try to blame the state for not enough lanes or for other reasons, the fact is, you could have ten lanes and its still going to happen, because people want to know what’s going on. Some countries have tried barriers, mostly used to protect people from seeing very nasty injury accidents, that even more makes people want to slow down.
This blog from Contract Hire and Leasing in the UK says that‘Rubbernecking’ has been known to increase congestion and cause minor accidents or fatal collisions, with an estimated knock-on cost of £750m to the economy every year, according to the Department for Transport. Check out the photo here. Which side of the road do you reckon the accident was on?
Apparently some 75% of people admit to rubbernecking and I expect a very large percentage of them also complain about rubberneckers especially when they are in a hurry.
Do a search on Twitter for rubberneckers and you’ll find it is a massive pet hate. So how do we stop it?