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Gawking at wrecks causes more accidents in open lanes

You're driving down the freeway in Tampa, and traffic starts to slow down. Pretty soon, you're going about 20 mph. You're sure there must be a crash up ahead that's slowing everything down.

There is, but not where you expected. You finally get to the accident scene, and two cars have crashed on the other side of the freeway. They're smashed and sitting in the median, but they haven't crossed into your lanes.

While you'd naturally expect traffic to be backed up on the other side of the road, behind the crash, why is it also slowing down for you? Your lanes are just as open as they were before the accident.

The reason is likely that people are gawking at the crash. They're hitting the brakes or at least taking their feet off the gas. They're staring to the side, at the crash scene, rather than at the road ahead of them.

This is incredibly common, but it's also very dangerous. Some reports claim that one in 10 accidents on the opposite side of a highway from a crash are caused by people gawking at the first wreck. It's a serious distraction, but people can't make themselves look away.

Even if you don't gawk, you're in danger when drivers around you are distracted. Plus, the resulting traffic jam could cause a rear-end accident if a car behind you doesn't slow down in time.

As frustrating as it is to be involved in a crash that could have so easily been avoided, don't waste your time being angry. Instead, put that energy into learning all you can about your legal rights, perhaps including the right to financial compensation.

Source: Everyday Health, "Why Do We Look at Car Accidents?," Amy Solomon, accessed June 30, 2017

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