Traffic Safety Update: Rubbernecking, Like Distracted Driving, Can Cause Maryland Roadway Collisions

Anyone who has read this column at any length knows that roadway collisions are one of the leading causes of death among adults and children here in the United States. For children, especially, car crashes amount to what is truly known as the primary killer of small children and infants. Whatever the cause, the loss of any life is a sad and regrettable event; but the loss of a young life is a tragedy beyond words.

As Baltimore automobile and trucking accident lawyers, I and my colleagues are committed to helping those families who have lost a loved one in car truck and motorcycle-related traffic collision. When it comes to car accidents, one of the most common reasons that police and traffic safety experts point to is driver error. And much of what occurs in the way of driver error can be chalked up to distracted driving.

More than anything, we as drivers have an obligation to ourselves, our families, passenger riding with us, as well as other drivers with whom we share the road to be as alert and on-task as we possibly can be, regardless of the situation. We would even go as far as saying that anyone who cannot apply themselves 100 percent to the job of operating a motor vehicle should probably not get behind the wheel of a car, SUV or minivan any time soon.

Individuals, parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and family friends should all consider the value of their cargo (read: any loved one riding in the car with that driver) every time they venture out onto the highways and byways of cities like Rockville, Annapolis, Gaithersburg and the District of Columbia. Driving is not a part-time activity; it takes skill, concentration and discipline to arrive home each night safe and sound.

When a driver takes to the road, there are many inputs — visual and audible — that can interrupt one’s concentration on the road ahead. Many motorists do exercise caution and good judgment when encountering external influences, but others do not, or at least have a hard time filtering out distractions.

Cellphone calls, texting, web-surfing on a smartphone, navigation systems, even the radio or eating fast food in the front seat; all of these can cause a major distraction that can easily lead to a bad car wreck. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has stated in the past that more than 5,000 roadway fatalities and close to half a million injuries are attributable to distracted driving every single year.

If anything, for those who feel they are immune to distractions, consider one additional kind of activity that can divert one’s attention from the road ahead: the ubiquitous roadside accident scene. Yes, it is a fact that many a driver’s attention has been drawn away for a period of time when passing the scene of a previous car or truck crash. A percentage of these individuals have come close to or even caused another collisions due to their momentary distraction.

What we are talking about is the aptly named “rubbernecking” that takes place near any roadside disturbance on Maryland roadways. We were reminded of the phenomenon when reading a news article a while back that blamed rubbernecking for a double accident on the Capital Beltway last August. According to that news report, Maryland State Police officials attributed a second crash along that stretch of the road to another driver when his vehicle rear-ended another and then caught fire.

Based on police information, the initial crash took place around 6am when a crash occurred between a a couple vehicles, one of which was pulling a trailer. The crash happened not far from the Baltimore-Washington Parkway near Greenbelt, MD. Not long after the first incident, which had been moved off to the shoulder of the beltway, a Honda struck a Mercedes leading to the car fire. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but it did point up the danger of staring at accident scene while operating one’s own automobile.

Rubbernecking Likely Culprit in Double Beltway Accident Wednesday,, August 8, 2012

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