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motorway collisions & rubbernecking

  • 06-06-2022 8:07am
    Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 48,616 CMod ✭✭✭✭

    i had a (bizarrely animated!) debate with my father in law yesterday on the topic; he'd been caught up in a tailback on a motorway several months ago, caused by a collision on the other side of the barrier in the opposite direction.

    he maintained that the tailback he was stuck in was caused by everyone (but him) rubbernecking, and i was taking the stance that it only takes a couple of people hitting the brakes, in already busy traffic, to set up the mellodion effect and a collision - especially if blue flashing lights are present in the aftermath - is a very effective way of doing this; and once the traffic has come to a halt, it won't dissipate easily.

    so who's right?

    i did a quick google, and the couple of mentions i found didn't seem clear on how they had decided it was specifically rubbernecking at fault; once you're in that tailback you usually have to come to a stop or near stop anyway.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,829 ✭✭✭Princess Calla

    I was on the M50 a few weeks ago when there was a crash.

    Traffic came to a halt you could see blue lights in the distance.

    I assumed crash was our side and when cars were moving one lane had opened up.

    Slowly we moved forward.

    As we got closer it was apparent that the crash was on the other side.

    There was absolutely nothing blocking any of the lanes on our side. once past the crash site it was an open road, speed returned to 100.

    Now I've no idea if at some point the guards had slowed our side down for access to the crash site but there was no evidence of that when I was passing.

    So the next conclusion is rubbernecking.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,888 ✭✭✭✭whisky_galore

    It is special kind of sh1thead who takes footage or photos of a fatal accident and shares them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,361 ✭✭✭✭coylemj

    BBC R2 does traffic reports every 30 minutes in the morning and about every hour in the middle of the day. Nearly every time there's a tailback on a motorway caused by an accident, the next report will include the fact that there's now a tailback on the other caused by rubbernecking. That's not speculation on my part, the announcer will explicitly say that the tailback on the other side is 'caused by rubbernecking'.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Or, it could just be "sh*t, looks like there's been an accident up ahead, I'd better slow down a bit just in case."

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 48,616 CMod ✭✭✭✭magicbastarder

    yep, rush hour traffic is very susceptible to the mellodion effect; and seeing blue flashing lights half a kilometre up ahead, for example, and maybe not knowing which side of the road is affected, so pre-emptively slowing, would be a natural (and sensible) reaction. which then causes big tailbacks.

    and once traffic has slowed to a crawl, it's easy to suggest the people in front of you are rubbernecking, but they were slowed to a crawl for the same reason you were - the person in front of them had to slow to a crawl, etc. etc.

    last time i was caught up in one (i've never commuted on motorways) was i think 2019 where a horse truck overturned and spilled i think 6 or 8 horses onto the M50; it was in the other direction but you can bet your bottom dollar at least a couple of people slowed when they saw horses loose on a motorway. and the tailback formed.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 13,461 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard

    You're likely both right - people rubbernecking were the initial cause of the slowdown, causing the brake-light backlog (or melodeon effect) for everyone else.

  • Registered Users Posts: 18,930 ✭✭✭✭Del2005

    There's also a chance they'll be reporting an RTC on the opposite side as rubberneckers crash into other rubberneckers.

    I fecking hate going past emergency vehicles on the side of the road with their lights on as everyone panics and acts stupid

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,394 ✭✭✭irishgeo

    Something that should be eliminated when lvl 5 automous driving comes along.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,260 ✭✭✭markpb

    You don’t even need level 5. Level 2 on motorways is here today and would cut out some of this behaviour if enough cars had it.

    I’m still LOLing at the idea that BBC Radio 2 are somehow able to read the minds of a group of drivers and definitely attribute blame to rubbernecking. With mind reading skills like that, they are wasted doing traffic reports on the radio.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,964 ✭✭✭✭Wishbone Ash

    I fecking hate going past emergency vehicles on the side of the road with their lights on as everyone panics and acts stupid

    ...or those donkeys who throw out the anchor when they see a Garda vehicle ahead even thought they had been adhering to the speed limit.

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