It is natural for the eyes to be drawn toward curious or unusual events, even while driving. Whether due to the scenery, construction, exotic vehicles, or a roadside accident, most motorists have experienced rubbernecking or diverting their attention away from the road to look at something of interest.
However, a moment of inattention can be all it takes for a driver to cause an accident. Learn about rubbernecking, what types of accidents it can cause, how to keep yourself from doing it, and what to do if a rubbernecking driver has injured you or a loved one.
Rubbernecking is the act of turning or craning your neck to follow an event or stare at something of interest as it moves past, such as while driving.
While it may seem harmless, rubbernecking while driving is negligent behavior with dangerous consequences. Rubbernecking is a specific type of distracted driving with two distinct characteristics: taking your eyes off the road and slowing down, often to get a better look.
Studies regarding the effects of rubbernecking have shown that 16% of all vehicle crashes are caused by a driver rubbernecking and staring at other accidents. It is one of the leading causes of distracted driving and a significant factor in all traffic accidents.
Although rubbernecking isn’t illegal, it can be considered evidence of criminally negligent behavior as defined by the Louisiana Revised Statutes (LA RS 14:12).
A court of law can convict a rubbernecking driver of reckless operation of a vehicle if evidence shows they were criminally negligent while operating a motor vehicle (LA RS 14:99).
Incidents caused by rubbernecking drivers often involve rear-end collisions. As drivers take their eyes off the road to observe an accident or other roadside event, they briefly stop paying attention to objects directly ahead of their vehicle. Consequently, they have less time to react to vehicles stopping or merging ahead of them, resulting in an impact.
Rubbernecking drivers may also cause other cars to rear-end them. When the rubbernecking driver suddenly slows down or brakes to observe an event, the driver behind them may not be anticipating a quick stop, causing them to rear-end the rubbernecking driver’s vehicle, despite not being at fault.
In more severe cases, rubbernecking drivers may cause a lane departure accident by either swerving or failing to maintain the vehicle in a straight line. They may potentially cross the center line and have a head-on collision with another vehicle or move into the path of a vehicle beside them, causing a side impact or sideswipe.
If you are approaching the scene of an accident, it’s essential to avoid rubbernecking. Here are a few tips and best practices to keep yourself and other drivers as safe as possible.
- Focus on the road ahead. At 55 mph, every second you look away is about 80 feet traveled without seeing what’s in front of you.
- If you need to reduce your speed, turn your hazard lights on before slowing down to alert drivers behind you.
- Drive cautiously, assume other drivers may be rubbernecking, and be prepared to react quickly.
If you are injured in a car accident due to a rubbernecking driver, proving liability and demonstrating the other party is at fault can be challenging, especially if their behavior caused your vehicle to rear-end theirs.
To prove the other driver was rubbernecking, you must have evidence of negligent actions, such as proof they looked away from the road, braked or slowed down without apparent reason, or left their lane in an unsafe manner. Dash cam footage is a good way to prove the other driver’s actions.
You can also gather evidence of your injuries and vehicle damage to establish you were hurt and suffered damages due to the accident. Seek medical attention as soon as possible and keep copies of any documentation relevant to the crash, such as medical records, police reports, and photographs of your injuries.
The best way to assert your rights and prove the rubbernecking driver’s liability is to seek attorneys specialized in car accidents. They have the resources to help you collect the evidence you need to show the other driver was at fault.
A qualified Louisiana car accident attorney can also help you contact witnesses and gather testimonies on your behalf to strengthen your case, giving you peace of mind and the time to focus on recovery.
At Dudley DeBosier, we made it our mission to represent the rights of Louisianans injured in traffic accidents. Our experienced attorneys have the resources and expertise to investigate your case, collect evidence to prove the other party’s negligence, and ensure you receive compensation for your injuries and trauma.
If you’ve been injured in a crash caused by a rubbernecker, or any crash that has left you with medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering, call Dudley DeBosier to learn how we can help. We operate on a contingency fee arrangement because we believe every car accident victim deserves the best legal representation. With our no fee guarantee, you don’t owe us a dime unless we win a settlement or verdict in your case. Get started today and contact us for a free case review.
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