If there is one thing that I absolutely cannot stand when it comes to driving and driving nuances, it is rubbernecking.
Rubbernecking, also known as ‘bumper to bumper', is when there is something going on on the roadway that is so distracting that everyone has to stop and/or slow down just in order to catch a glimpse of what is going on. The most common form of this can be seen when you drive down the street and there is an accident. It's one thing if you are the first person to drive up on an accident and want to slow down to see if the person is ok or to see if they need help. However, it is quite a different situation if you are driving on the road and notice that the traffic has all of a sudden slowed down to a crawl and now you want to know what is going on. There may be an accident that everyone has slowed down to look at.
Again, there is a difference between slowing down to look at an accident simply because you are either curious and/or nosy; and then there is a difference between slowing down because there is an accident and you want to help and/or exercise caution. As a general rule, if you are the first person to drive up on an accident, you should take note of where you are as well as have your phone out, ready to call 9-1-1. The reason why you should know where you are is so that you can give your location to the dispatchers over the phone. Also, remember to speak slowly, loudly and clearly so that you can be understood. If you get out of your car and determine that the person is hurt, resist the urge to move them or touch them unless the car is on fire or there is some other sort of immediate threat. Instead, wait for the paramedics to arrive.
When slowing down because the traffic in front of you has slowed down, it is more likely that the traffic is slowing down because there has been an accident. Chances are that if this is the case, someone has already stopped to tend to whomever may be injured. As tempting as it may be to some to get out of their cars and help, if you see that there is someone who is already there and appears to have the situation under control, keep driving. You don't want to speed by an accident (because this is dangerous), but then again, you don't want to slow down so much that you now risk causing an accident to other drivers behind you who may not know or understand why you are slowing down.
Much of rubbernecking could be avoided if people simply minded their own business and maintained the speed limit. Think of bumper cars in this situation. Bumper cars hit each other when they get too close. The same thing can happen when you are rubbernecking. Maintain a safe distance at all time and make sure that your bumper has enough clearance with the other vehicles around you.