Putting a hefty price to a nuisance of a habit is a good way to ensure its speedy demise and the Dh1,000 fine for staring at traffic accidents, rather than move on, must be imposed with zero tolerance.

An ill-mannered and thoughtless form of behaviour by motorists, rubbernecking is a dangerous and obstructive practice. It impedes the flow of traffic, creates traffic snarls, invites more accidents and at its worst, hinders the work of the traffic police and first responders at the site of an accident — sometimes, even preventing rescue personnel from reaching the accident spot on time.

The Dh1,000 fine, part of an intensive revision of traffic fines and rules introduced in July 2017 across the UAE, is an important pre-emptive measure and must be applied rigorously. After all, no one likes to part with such a sum of money as a fine and the pinch in the wallet will hopefully produce enough pain for it to be a lesson for life. But given the truculence of UAE motorists when it comes to rubbernecking, there is a need for intensive, round-the-year awareness campaigns on the dangers of this practice.

It must be repeatedly impressed upon motorists that when they take their eyes off the road, even if for a few seconds, to stare at an accident, they are potentially asking to be involved in an accident themselves. Research on traffic accidents has provided irrefutable evidence on how visual and cognitive distractions while driving are factors contributing to crash or near-crash involvements.

And finally, here’s what makes rubbernecking truly deplorable: Staring at somebody’s misfortune is not a nice thing to do. Period.