Monday, June 4, 2007

What’s up with rubbernecking?

City traffic is a phenomenon with which I’ve become all too familiar in the past year and a half, and some aspects of it never cease to astound me, such as the strange ability of a relatively small thing to bring hundreds of people to a standstill.

For example: this evening as I was driving home, traffic piled up in an unusual way for that part of the highway. We all proceeded to crawl along at about 7 mph for the next 3 miles or so before I could see the cause of the delay. On the far side of the HOV road (“carpool lane” for you California people), a car had run off the road into the barrier. [Alhamdulillah, it didn’t seem to be too bad – no ambulances or shattered glass, just a tow truck.]

Now, on this particular highway the HOV lanes are a totally different roadway separated by concrete barriers, so there should be no connection between traffic problems in one and the other. Still, that amazing phenomenon occurred that made someone feel obliged to slow waaaaay down to look, and then the people behind them slow down, and so on until we’re all sitting still, drumming our fingers on the steering wheel and wishing we had a snack to sustain us – perhaps a banana to restore sore muscles after a fundraising walk.

I know it was only rubbernecking and not a real problem because traffic resumed a normal pace almost immediately after the accident site. So it’s kind of incredible to think that a fender-bender on the shoulder of a separate road had brought 8 lanes of traffic to a crawl for miles.

I guess in these situations I can just be grateful that it wasn’t my fender-bender, alhamdulillah – and that helps me not get quite so frustrated with the whole thing. And of course venting about it helps too :)

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