Humans are naturally curious. Even though most people get angry at other drivers for “rubbernecking” in an attempt to get a glimpse of a police traffic stop or a car accident, most people when pressed will also admit they have done the same thing a time or two.
Recently, police departments in Florida began using a new invention that aims to cut down on rubbernecking and give first responders privacy while working at the scene of a car accident.
As Boca Raton car accident lawyers, we are interested in any product designed to reduce injuries on the road.
Is Rubbernecking Dangerous?
It’s difficult to find statistics on whether gawking at a car accident can actually cause an accident, but there is no question that rubbernecking takes a driver’s attention away from the road.
Any time you’re not fully focused on driving, you increase your risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Distracted driving comes in three types:
- Visual: Any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road is a visual distraction.
- Manual: Manual distractions include activities that force a driver to take his or her hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive: When a driver’s mind is focused on something other than driving, it’s a cognitive distraction.
Because rubbernecking forces a driver’s attention off the road, it is a cognitive distraction. Unfortunately, many people find it impossible to control their curiosity and keep their eyes on the road when passing the scene of an accident.
Rubbernecking is common when a car accident has been moved to the side of the road, but motorists slow down to stare at other types of distractions.
Drivers can cause accidents when they look away from the road to stare at construction sites, a stopped car, or even a hitchhiker standing by the road.
Anything that diverts a motorist’s attention from the task of driving is a potential hazard.
Screens to Stop Rubbernecking
When motorists slow down to get a look at an accident on the side of the road, they create numerous problems.
Rubbernecking tends to start a chain reaction of distracted drivers, which leads to traffic congestion and even road rage as cars continue to pile up.
Accidents can also happen when drivers farther back in line attempt to go around other vehicles by driving off the road or cutting off other motorists.
Police officers and other first responders have long been aware of the problems posed by overly curious motorists.
The problem is so bad in the United Kingdom that police departments have begun using large screens to temporarily hide car accidents. When there is nothing to see, drivers tend to keep their eyes on the road.
The use of screens to stop rubbernecking has also made its way across the pond. In Sarasota, the police department purchased two screens from an American company that manufactures a product similar to the one used by police in the UK.
The Manatee Sheriff’s Office has also used the large, flexible barriers to protect the identity of witnesses during criminal proceedings.
According to a USA Today report, more than a dozen police departments in Florida have begun using the screens. The screen manufacturer says it has sold the screens in 20 states.
In addition to police departments, other customers include hospitals, airports, and hotels.
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