December 27, 2012
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What is Rubber-Necking?
Rubber-necking takes place when a driver coming in the opposite direction slows down to view an accident on the other side of the road. The term paints a visual picture of a neck made of rubber that can be twisted around – which is essentially what the driver’s neck looks like as the car passes the accident.
It is one of the most infuriating things. You’re sitting in a seemingly endless traffic jam going so slowly your clutch is pleading for a break as you can’t get enough speed to stay in 1st gear. Finally after 15, 30, or 60 minutes you slowly pass a pile-up but it’s on the other side of the road! By this time you’ve well-earned your right to rubber-neck.
But what if people at the front of the queue didn’t rubber-neck in the first place? Then the side of the road without the accident would flow as normal and instead of spending 60 minutes to reach the accident you’d fly past it in just one minute.
It seems the British have solved this problem! This BBC news article states that the Highways Agency (which operates motorways/freeways in the United Kingdom) has bought portable screens to set up in the middle of the road around an accident to stop drivers coming the other way of seeing the accident.
Even though drivers would know there is an accident there would be no gory details to gawk at thereby removing the motivation for slowing down causing unnecessary jams.
Brilliant idea! I would love countries all over the world to adopt this.