In driving, rubbernecking is the act of slowing down to observe what is occurring outside the vehicle. Whether it’s an accident, a street performance, or a gorgeous view, cars have a tendency to pull over. It should come as no surprise that rubbernecking is a kind of distracted driving, as it diverts your attention from the road to whatever has captured your attention.
Several factors render rubbernecking hazardous. It is initially unpredictable. It is not always possible to forecast how long your eyes will be taken away from the road. It may be a few seconds or it may be several minutes. During such period, you are not focused on the road, which is dangerous.
Additionally, as you rubberneck, you will likely slow down. This can confuse other drivers who expect you to keep a particular speed. They may need to brake abruptly or swerve to avoid colliding with you. This could result in an accident that could have been averted differently.
Furthermore, rubbernecking can be very distracting. In the midst of rubbernecking, not only do you glance away from the road, but you also ponder about what you are looking at. Your mind is likely wandering and you are not concentrating on the current activity. This can be extremely hazardous.
The most important piece of advice regarding rubbernecking is to resist the impulse to slow down and gaze. If you must peek, try to do so quickly and avoid letting it distract you from driving. When driving, your primary concentration should always be on the road and your surroundings. The act of rubbernecking can wait until you are parked safely.