Stop the rubbernecking

I wasn’t sure where to categorize this, under iOS, Android, Photography? Security?

In Germany, the emergency services have been campaigning against “Gaffer” (rubberneckers) for a couple of years now. Firemen have been seen hosing down people who open their windows to film a crash, although that doesn’t always end well.

Police have taken to pulling rubberneckers out of cars and marching them to the accident and asking them, if that is what they want to see? What would they think, if they were laying there, their bones exposed and people were filming them?

None of this really seems to work. Now, the ambulance services are experimenting with putting QR-Codes on their vehicles, clothing and emergency backpacks, which will trigger smartphones trying to film the scene to pop up a website telling them to stop rubbernecking.

It causes tailbacks, people don’t leave a “Rettungsgasse” (emergency lane) open (the left hand lane has to pull to the crash barrier and the middle/right lane has to pull as far left as possible to leave a lane open for emergency vehicles - the problem is, egotistical p****s use the lane themselves, to get to the front of the queue, and thus stop emergency vehicles from reacher the accident, or they turn their vehicles around and drive the wrong way up the emergency lane to get back to the previous exit and leave the autobahn.

(It is already an offence to film an accident, unless you are accredited press, but the police usually have more critical things to do than hand out hundreds of tickets, such as cone off the accident, save lives, clean up the area and ensure other services can reach the site.)

Sorry, the links are only in German:

The Chip page has a copy of the QR-code, you can scan it to see what happens to people that try and film an incident - it brings up a page telling the phone user that rubbernecking can cost lives (in German).


I’ve often wondered if it would be possible to have something like they do with drones. Disable the smartphone camera if you’re in a location that emergency services has deemed sensitive.

Sold my drone, because with all the RAF bases around me, wasn’t really anywhere I could use it as we are permanently in a no-fly zone.

Good try with the QR code - but it won’t bring up the webpage automatically or stop pics will it?

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Not on my phone, at least. I tried the code on the Chip page, the default is to prompt the user to open the link. It blocks the bottom third of the display (vertical), probably over half (horizontal).

I’ve seen some accident scenes where the crew will put up screens around the site so you can’t see anything. I like the idea of some technological solution to stop the filming, but good luck getting people to simply ignore the crash. I live near a beautiful parkway in the NYC metro region with long stretches where there are two narrow lanes in both directions, with little or no shoulder, and a simple wooden barrier. Even the most minor fender bender-- if it causes people to get out of their car-- creates a huge traffic jam.
The most frequent incident by far is someone being rear-ended in stop and go rush hour traffic. The person in back is just not paying attention and they hit the car in front of them. Even though both cars are functional enough to drive to the edge of the road (or the shoulder if there is one), the drivers will get out and just wait there for police and/or a tow truck. Drivers should be trained to quickly document the scene with photos, then move their vehicles to the side where they can exchange information and wait for help if necessary.


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Agreed, the tailbacks won’t disappear if you stop people taking pictures. It’s a natural reaction as a driver to lift off if you see emergency vehicles or an accident (in fact it’s probably the right thing to do if people are in the road). The accordion effect means traffic eventually stops behind you.

And thinking a bit more about it, an oppressive regime being able to disable your smartphone camera is prob not the right approach.

Yes, they do, eventually, put up screens, if people are trapped or dead. But they still need to get the scene under control and the first-responders must get to the victims are quickly as possible, the screens are then put up by the secondary personnel, once the lanes have been blocked off etc.

Often, it can take a while until the relevant screens are on site and can be erected. If this type of QR-Code could is effective in the time until the scene can be screened off, that is a win. I’d also put the QR-code on the screens.

It won’t stop the traffic jams, but it could reduce follow-on accidents, because people are looking where they are driving and not hanging out their windows with a phone.

I agree with @Jamze, this wouldn’t be good for protests etc. if the police start using them to stop people filming. Although it wouldn’t affect “real” reporters, for example, using real cameras.

Seems like a super dystopian solution. That’d be the first “feature” I’d strip out of my Android.

QR solution is interesting, but my camera app doesn’t default to opening QR codes. Firemen hosing them down sounds fantastic :joy:

People are just garbage drivers. No one has the attention span to drive, and regulation has made it way too easy and safe.

That’s an interesting cultural difference.

In California rubbernecking is practically a civil right. We’ve made a fine art of it. It’s probably illegal but I’ve never seen it enforced.

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It also goes back to GDPR, you cannot photograph people in public and post it online or publish it without their permission - somebody laying unconcious or trapped in a vehicle cannot give their permission.

Additionally, there is victim protection and the people in car wrecks are victims of a accident, again, it is highly illegal to photograph/film them without permission.

So, you aren’t allowed to photograph the victims, full-stop, and you can’t photograph and publish the emergency services people without getting their written permission.

The exception is accredited journalists, they are allowed to film on crash sites, but the victims of the accident have to be blurred out, if they are injured. And, if the emergency services people don’t give their OK, their faces will also be blurred out.

Interestingly, the license plate is also protected PII. If you watch German dashcam footage, all the license plates should be blurred out. Some don’t bother, but they could, theoretically, be prosecuted under GDPR and YouTube & Co. subject to a takedown notice for a GDPR violation - simply editing the video and blurring the license plate would allow it to be reposted afterwards.

What if you’re in the city center for the day, taking photos of your family doing everyday stuff in public? You’re supposed to blur the faces of any strangers visible in the photo before you can share it on social media?

It depends. If they are really “just in the background”, no. If they are “in the shot”, then yes, you need to get a release from them, before you can post it on social media.

Example 1: You take a picture of a fountain (with or without your family) and there are people milling about behind the fountain, then it is okay to take a photo and to post it online.

Example 2: Your family is sitting on the side of the fountain and there is another couple sitting next to them, if the couple appear in the photo, you need their permission, before you can post it.

Autonomous cars are the answer (maybe?)

The problem is, autonomous cars are relatively easy… When every vehicle is autonomous. The problem is crazy, we need 20th generation autonomous cars now, and in 10 years, we will need 5th generation autonomous cars, once the majority of self-driven vehicles have disappeared…


Fascinated by some of the stuff shown at Shanghai last month. Lots of non-legacy car makers coming to market with EV cars in short timescales. NIO had a launch event in Norway yesterday, say they’re planning on rolling out their while-you-wait battery swap tech too.

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This is awesome, @big_D . Thanks for posting. I so miss living in Germany. So orderly. So clean. (Of course, this was a 30 yrs ago)

I perhaps this is less of an issue in the US because so many drivers are “inside” their Handies that they’d hardly notice the Umfall… My next step is to get a dash-cam mainly in the event of Umfall, to have documentation of the stupidity that transpired ahead of me.

That is what I never understood, why charge the batteries in the car? Go back to the post horses method, the wagon used to arrive at the rest stop, the team was changed for fresh horses and the driver carried on.

Why not have standardised batteries and you lease them, then, when you drive onto the forecourt, you drive over a “pit”, the battery is dropped out of the car into the pit (well, a lift comes up and uncouples it, then it is lowered into the pit) and a new battery is pushed up into the car. Probably takes a couple of minutes. The battery can be recharged by the station, ready for the next customer.

Obviously, the stations would need to have a bunch of batteries available. They would also be responsible for testing the batteries and swapping out duds for new ones.

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They’ve read your mind :slightly_smiling_face:

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Tesla proposed that idea, but then didn’t deliver it. I think there are two issues. There was fear that car owners would find a way to game the system and get a “new” battery before selling the car on. Also, car manufacturers seem to be quite worried commoditization, and don’t want to make the agreements that would be necessary for this sort of a system to work. Also, these days, they seem to want to contour batteries into the vehicle in various ways, which of course makes them difficult (or even impossible) to change out later.