Rubbernecking on Carolina Roads Causes Additional Traffic Accidents

According to a research at the University of Virginia traffic incidents cause delays in incident direction and also in the opposite direction. Traffic incidents and increased volume make the roadway more dangerous for all drivers.


Our Spartanburg personal injury attorneys understand secondary accidents are a common threat, as motorists slow to make their way through an accident scene. In too many cases, distractions lead to additional injuries.

A lot of research has been conducted regarding the influence of a traffic incident on the flow of traffic in the incident direction. However, very little research has been conducted regarding the well-known phenomenon of rubbernecking and its effect on traffic traveling in the opposite direction.

Studies have shown that incidents account for 60% of the total congestion on a freeway system. Traffic incidents cause the highway system to operate far less efficiently.

Rubbernecking is largely caused by human factors, such as curiosity. But it can be exacerbated by the lack of barriers.

Typically drivers in the opposite direction turn their head to get a look at the incident on the opposite side of the roadway and slow down as a result. The slow down creates congestion.

With so many distractions stealing drivers attention the addition of rubbernecking can be the last straw and cause more accidents due to inattention.

According to an article on, rubbernecking steals attention from the parts of the brain needed to process other information for safe driving.

Research shows that there is a bottleneck of information processing in the human brain. The most shocking and intriguing events rise to the top of human cognition while less interesting events drop in priority.

As mentioned before, human emotions play the largest role in rubbernecking and include: concern, fear, and curiosity.

According to, large screens are used in the United Kingdom to prevent motorists from seeing an accident. The partitions are mean to deter drivers from slowing down to gaze at an accident scene and cause more traffic behind them.

The effect of the screens is to desensitize drivers. The screens will always appear the same and not be interesting enough to grab a driver’s attention, particularly once motorists get used to seeing the screens on the roadway.

According to an article on, the screens in Britain have worked remarkably well and some transportation officials have considered implementing a similar technique in the
United States.

When it comes to rubbernecking, drivers will angrily sit in traffic caused by an incident, but as they pass the incident drivers often cannot resist the urge to glance over at the heap of twisted metal to grab a peek of what caused the hold up.

If you or someone you love has suffered an injury, contact Lee Law Offices, P.A. for a free and confidential consultation with our North and South Carolina attorneys. Call 1-800-887-1965.

More Blog Resources:

Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise in North Carolina, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, April 12, 2013

Are Hands-Free Devices the Answer to the Distracted Driving Problem?, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, April 6, 2013

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