Your Neck Is Not Made Of Rubber

So you're driving on the highway, as you do when you need to cover large distances quickly, when all of a sudden traffic grinds to a halt. The parkway becomes a parking lot, and you could actually get out of your car and walk faster than traffic is moving. Half an hour (and half a mile) later, you find the apparent source of the problem: a damaged car is on the shoulder of the road. That's right, traffic slowed to a veritable crawl because of something that wasn't blocking a single lane. And it has to stop.

The problem, of course, has nothing to do with the damaged car; it most likely went off the road and bumped against the guard rail or something, safely out of the way of the highway. The problem is with all the jackasses who think it's their sworn duty to carefully examine every single incident on the road, and must therefore slow down enough to take inventory of how many screws were dislodged from the hubcaps. Slowing down to look at an accident (or construction, or two people fucking, or whatever else is going on) is called rubbernecking, and it's more than just an inconvenience: it's fucking dangerous.

Let's talk about the inconvenience part of rubbernecking first. You see a car on the side of the road, and you're curious about what's going on. Why is it on the side of the road? Is the driver a hot topless chick? Is she demonstrating that she's a lesbian? All these burning questions lead you to slow down and take a closer look, hoping for a glance of titty. You never see titty though, so you accelerate and continue on. No big deal, right? WRONG.

The problem isn't directly with you slowing down, but with the impact your deceleration has on everyone behind you. The person behind you has to slow down too, whether they want to or not. And then the person behind them has to slow down, and so on. More than that, each person slows down more than the person in front of them, meaning that eventually traffic grinds to a halt, all because you had to search for naked breasts. Recently it took me an hour to travel five kilometres because of rubbernecking.

So how is it dangerous? That's an easy question. You slow down, but the person behind you is distracted and doesn't realise it. Then they hit you from behind. Now all of a sudden you're in an accident, as well as anyone else unlucky enough to be close to you, and to top it off you are now almost single-handedly responsible for a multi-car collision and blocking at least one lane of traffic. To top it all off, people are going to rubberneck you, thus perpetuating the cycle. You selfish bastard.

I have been in a car crash at 60km/h. The car was a write-off. I sincerely hope I never have to find out what it's like to be in one at the highway speed of 100km/h. I've seen cars literally disintegrate in crashes at 200km/h. The officer at my crash told me in casual conversation as we were waiting for the tow truck that he hates rubberneckers, and he feels they are more dangerous than the accidents themselves, especially in bad weather conditions such as my crash occurred in. This isn't just something that pisses me off: officers of the law, whose duty it is to maintain order and the safety of the population, are backing me up.

The source of the problem is our collective morbid curiosity. We see a train wreck, and we can't look away. Similarly, we see a car at the side of the road, and we need to know why it's there. We've been so desensitised to violence by movies and television that nothing phases us any more, and we actively (though often subconsciously) seek out new things to push the limits of what we can take. Don't believe me? Check out BMEvideo, Ogrish and Mucho Sucko. I warn you: all three sites contain extremely graphic content that you should not, as a human being with a conscience, be able to look at without feeling sick. It doesn't matter whether you can view those sites or not; what matters is that they exist.

The problem is that despite your intuitive curiosity, it is none of your fucking business what's going on over there! Yes, it's something to look at. If you must, turn your head. But don't slow down while you do it, thus slowing traffic behind you and probably making someone late for something that actually fucking matters, like a meeting or a job interview or something.

There are very few groups of people I want to strangle one by one more than I do rubberneckers. Every time there's an accident, or construction, it's faster to get off the highway entirely and take residential backroads than it is to stay on the highway in stop-and-go rubbernecking traffic. If you need to see vehicular carnage, go to in the comfort of your own home. Don't slow down on the highway for a scene that's less interesting than anything on that website. The next time you do, the guy behind you may decide to plow in to you on purpose and fuck up your day just like you're fucking up the days of everyone behind you.

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