Rubbernecking describes the act of gawking at something of interest. It is often used to refer to drivers trying to view the carnage resulting from a traffic accident. The term refers to the craning of a person’s neck in order to get a better view.
Rubbernecking has also been described as a human trait that is associated with morbid curiosity. It can be the cause of traffic jams (sometimes referred to as ‘Gaper’s blocks’), as drivers slow down to see what happened in a crash. It is also a cause of accidents as drivers become distracted and change their rate of travel while other drivers are also distracted. Rubbernecking has also come to be used more generally to describe voyeuristic interest in someone else’s ‘business’ or difficulties.