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Is rubbernecking a form of driver negligence?

On Behalf of | May 25, 2021 | Car Accidents |

When a car gets involved in a horrible crash, passing drivers often have a hard time looking away. Morbid curiosity may overtake a California driver, leading to an ironically tragic result: A rubbernecking driver might cause another crash themselves.

The unfortunate irony of rubbernecking

Rubbernecking” refers to a driver turning his or her head to look at something on the roadside. Commonly, drivers look at disabled, wrecked or stalled vehicles. Cars pulled over by law enforcement may also gain inquisitive stares.

Drivers don’t stop and stare, though; they don’t usually look for very long. However, even slightly turning one’s attention from the road comes with risks when operating a moving vehicle. Even when driving at 35 mph, a car travels quite a bit in five seconds. Most drivers travel at a speed capable of causing significant harm while they’re not paying attention.

Rubbernecking may lead to a negligent collision

Rubbernecking is not much different than other forms of distracted driving. When someone diverts their attention from the road, the chance for an accident increases. Momentarily looking away could be more than enough time to crash into another car, hit a tree or impact a motorcycle.

Those hurt in car accidents caused by a rubbernecking driver may file a lawsuit claiming negligence. Legally, there might not be any distinction between rubbernecking and other distracting behaviors. Anyone who thinks that rubbernecking is “not as bad” as texting and driving could be in for a surprise as any unsafe behavior opens up distracted drivers to liability.

Rubbernecking accidents could lead to a personal injury suit. An attorney may assist victims in seeking an insurance or court settlement.