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Rubbernecking, Explained: Why Staring At Car Crashes Is A Normal Human Response

Rubbernecking
This is why all humans rubberneck. Photo courtesy of TFoxFoto / Shutterstock.com”>Shutterstock

Ever pass a horrific car crash on the road that you can’t seem to turn your attention away from? Don’t be embarrassed. We all rubberneck and not just because the sight of all that carnage amuses us. It’s actually human nature. As Michael Stevens explains in this Vsauce video, “We like disturbing things because we like to SCREAM. They give us Strength, Catharsis, Reality, Exploration, Acceptance, and Meaning.”

“We are paradoxically drawn towards some pretty repulsive things: car accidents, car chases, the possibility of a crash, or a fight, or a natural disaster, I mean not one that hurts anyone, of course, but one that’s exciting,” Stevens explains. “Celebrity scandal, drama, disfiguration, true crime, war, and gore — the macabre.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 33,561 people died in 2012 as the result of 30,800 fatal car accidents. Research also suggests that 98 percent of reported car accidents involve a single distracted driver. Rubbernecking was the highest percentage of reported single distractions, followed by driver fatigue. 

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