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A traffic report on News Radio 780 WBBM here in Chicagoprompted me to write this blog, which in fact I’ve had in mind for some time now. Gapers to one accident apparently set up the circumstances for at least one more wreck in the same area within a ten -minute period (I think the report said two more wrecks resulted).

English: A traffic controller at Michigan Aven...

English: A traffic controller at Michigan Avenue, Chicago. Français : Un agent de circulation dans la Michigan Avenue, à Chicago (Illinois, États-Unis). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now the idea of the gaper is not one that sits well with me at all, and surely it does not bide well with drivers who are caught up in long traffic lines and who themselves are not gapers to an accident/crash/incident/emergency response. Those who are just “slowing down to take a look”, are the ones getting in the way and there is something these folks should remember.

The incident did not happen for your entertainment or benefit. The people involved might be seriously injured and in distress, and I certainly wouldn’t want some perfect strangers watching me in such a situation. Now if you witnessed the incident then you have to stop, especially if injuries are involved, or worse a hit-and-run event. You can do the best good by taking down a license number or description of the offending driver and/or vehicle. Otherwise, it is best to let the emergency responders do their work and you should not get in their way. Your gaping could be slowing down a responding emergency crew.

Just slow down for additional approaching emergency vehicles – that is part of the basic rules of the road anyway – and keep moving otherwise. The road is not a place of amusement; as shown by the earlier traffic report it is a place to pay attention. The road is a place where vehicles weighing many tons are moving, where speeds are high, where conditions can change in an instant, and where people are tired or on many kinds of medications, are drunk or are eating in the car. You need to pay attention because of those who are not paying attention.

Gapers also get in the way of others who do not care to slow down because someone is interested in seeing what is going on with the flashing lights and the wailing sirens. Come on, people; if you have been on the highways at all you have seen enough of sirens, police cars, fire department vehicles, OEMC responses during severe weather, and the like, to know that such things happen all the time and it is nothing that you need to be paying attention to unless the responders are slowing traffic, directing or diverting traffic, or giving directions. Pay attention to THEM, not to the incident.

In short, as a gaper you are only getting in the way and not paying attention. Keep to the rules of the road: pay attention, follow directions, keep your eyes on what is being directed by the first responders, and follow through.

Traffic slows to a crawl on the Monash Freeway...

Traffic slows to a crawl on the Monash Freeway in Melbourne, Australia through peak hour traffic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divi Logan and EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.