Car Accident Rubbernecking

SETTING SCREENS

We've all seen it happen. There's an accident on the road and you feel the urge to take a closer look.  Curiosity about what on earth just caused a 45 minute delay is too powerful to resist and we slow even more to get our view.  It is dangerous and can cause even bigger issues than the original crash.  It’s annoying and an unnecessary source of accident-related traffic congestion called “rubbernecking.” As we all know, terrific jams can be caused even when the wreck(s) is moved out of the traffic lanes, as passing drivers slow to get a view of the accident aftermath. It may be a minor fender bender, but it could lead to an even bigger accident, or what officials call a secondary crash.

The pinnacle of transportation-related annoyance may be that not only does rubber-necking take place along the route where the accident happens, but it can even cause severe jams in the lanes going the opposite direction.

Used in other jurisdictions, mobile screens quickly erected at accident sites hide the scene and prevent gaping.  There’s nothing to see.  While the screens are not perfect; for example, the barriers to which the screens have to be attached vary in size, which creates problems; the screens are vulnerable to wind; the decision about whether to deploy them must be made very rapidly; they have to be able to be set up quickly and safely, etc. Thus they are not suitable for all accident sites. However, test results have shown they are effective in keeping traffic moving past an accident scene.


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