Screens used to stop ‘rubbernecking’ at traffic accidents

Screens to deter "rubberneckers"
Screens to deter "rubberneckers"

Special screens have been used at traffic accidents on major roads in Sussex to prevent ‘rubbernecking’.

New research from reveals almost half of Brits (48%) believe it is normal to be curious at the scene of a traffic accident.

Almost three-quarters (72%) will glance at incidents as they drive past, and one in ten (10%) admit they would even reduce their speed if it meant taking a better look.

“Rubbernecking” – the act of slowing down in an attempt to view the aftermath of a crash - can often have some serious consequences such as increased congestion, minor accidents or, worse, fatal collisions.

According to the new research, 69% of motorists believe that stopping to look at a road traffic accident is dangerous, while a quarter (25%) see it as disrespectful to the victims involved or a voyeuristic exercise (19%).

Yet it seems that many drivers just can’t fight the urge. One in seven (15%) have even seen fellow road users taking photos whilst passing crash sites.

Unsurprisingly, nearly one in five (17%) Brits recall hours being added on to their journey due to disruptive motorists reducing their speed to look at an accident on the other side of the road.

In a recent case, in May this year, 20 drivers were stopped by the police for filming the scene of a serious accident on the A14 in Cambridgeshire. Those involved could face charges of careless driving which carries a maximum £5,000 fine and up to nine penalty points.

In order to tackle the problem of “rubbernecking” and reduce the estimated £750m cost to the economy, Highways England purchased 105 sets of incident screens in 2009.

The sets, costing £2.2m, contain a total of 3,000 individual screens each measuring 2.1m by 2m. They are used to deter drivers who stop to look at crashes on the opposite carriageway, slowing down the traffic behind and encouraging low speed collisions as a result.

Six years after the purchase, new FOI data obtained by reveals the screens have been used 16 times on the south-east’s roads, 70 times in total in England and seven times in Scotland. The new data also reveals that, in addition to the original cost, £100,869.94 has been spent on maintenance, servicing, refurbishment and transportation since January 1 2012.