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What is Reckless Driving?

reckless driving or careless driving

Have you ever been so late for work that you resorted to speeding? Or maybe you needed to pass someone who was driving slow, so you crossed double yellow lines? These are common decisions drivers sometimes make that you may assume would be harmless, but, in fact, they can be incredibly serious.

What has been described is known as reckless driving, the intentional act of ignoring road laws. It is a serious matter that comes along with just as equally serious consequences. Familiarize yourself with what is reckless driving and the resulting penalties by exploring the information guide below.

Reckless Driving Definition

The concrete definition for reckless driving can vary by state, but, in general, it is described as driving a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others and property.

Driving recklessly is typically regarded as an intentional act in which a motorist has no concern for the laws of the road. It is the act of purposefully ignoring things like other drivers and safety signals. Exhibiting such behavior is illegal and comes with a variety of serious consequences.

Common Examples of Reckless Driving

Now that you have an idea for the definition of reckless driving, it may be helpful to look at ways reckless driving presents itself. Listed below are some common examples of reckless driving that you should always avoid participating in. Doing any of the following can be dangerous and cause serious, if not fatal, collisions.

  • Speeding - Reckless driving can appear in many forms when it comes to speeding. Driving 50 over the speed limit is obviously reckless, but so is driving the regular speed limit during a blizzard. Speeding essentially becomes reckless when someone drivers too fast for the current road conditions. Driving fast during a blizzard nearly presents nearly the same braking challenges that someone speeding on a clear, sunny day does.
  • Ignoring traffic signals - Intentionally ignoring traffic signals like red lights and stop signs is another reckless driving act. Doing so not only puts you and your vehicle in danger but also poses a threat to every other vehicle on the road. Reckless driving is about intent, so speeding up at an intersection when you see the light turn red to try to make it is reckless and can cause serious harm, for example.
  • Dangerous traffic maneuvers - Zigzagging in between lanes or attempting an unsafe path is considered to be reckless driving. Failing to use signals and weaving in and out of traffic puts the reaction time of other drivers to the test. It scares others on the road and increases the chances of an accident.
  • Tailgating - Tailgating is the act of following a vehicle too closely, which runs the risk of causing rear-end accidents. According to the rules of the road, drivers should leave at least two car lengths between them and the vehicle in front of them. Intentionally not following this rule can lead to a serious collision. Due to your close proximity to the vehicle in front of you, if they make a sudden stop, there is little time for you to react. If you are hit from behind, it can send your vehicle into the car in front of you, creating an unfortunate domino effect.
  • Driving a dangerous vehicle - Knowingly hitting the road with a vehicle that is not safe to operate is considered reckless behavior. For example, driving with broken headlights or faulty brake lights puts you and others at risk for a collision. It’s one thing for you to not realize your headlight is out and a whole other issue if you hit the road knowing your vehicle is not up to legal standards.
  • Racing - Racing goes beyond just speeding. It’s about taking over a public street for your own selfish and dangerous purpose. This can be very damaging to other cars that may stumble across what you have deemed a racetrack. Avoid putting yourself in danger with such reckless behavior. Leave the racing to the professionals who utilize a real course.
  • Road rage - Yelling from your vehicle is not the type of road rage that is considered reckless driving. Road rage becomes reckless when you use your vehicle as a means of harming someone else on the road. It is a signature example of reckless driving as it shows intent and disregard for the law.
  • Impaired driving - Driving under the influence, whether it be after consuming drugs or alcohol, is considered reckless behavior. It puts everyone, not just yourself, in harm’s way. Driving when you are fatigued is also considered to be just as dangerous. There is absolutely no reason you should pose this much risk on the road.

Reckless Driving Consequences

Like any other type of traffic violation, being reckless on the road is not without its own serious consequences.

Listed below is what you can expect to be facing if you are convicted of reckless driving:

  • Accidents and collisions - Accidents of pretty much any kind can be the result of reckless driving. Read-end collisions, t-bone accidents, and head-on collisions are just some examples of reckless driving accidents you could be involved in. And these types of accidents don’t just affect you. They cause stress and harm to innocent drivers.
  • Fines - Once convicted of reckless driving, be prepared to pay some hefty ticket fines. Laws regarding reckless behavior on the road vary by state, but you could easily be paying tens of thousands of dollars following getting a ticket.
  • Jail time - Jail times also vary based on what state you are in, but you could be spending time in jail following a reckless driving conviction, especially if your driving resulted in someone else getting seriously injured. Possible sentences can be as long as 2 years.
  • License suspension - Be prepared to not drive for a while after recklessly driving. There is a huge chance your license will be suspended, which will create a million little headaches for you, especially when it comes to auto insurance.
  • Accumulating driving record points - Pretty much any traffic violation will result in points being added to your driving record. Reckless driving is no exception. Points on driving records show how many violations you have and thus how much of a risk you are on the road.
  • Vehicle impoundment - It’s possible that your vehicle will be impounded following a reckless driving conviction. This is just part of the many consequences you will have to face should you choose to act so careless.

Reckless Driving And Auto Insurance

A reckless driving conviction will also seriously impact your insurance rates. You can expect your insurance premiums to increase, or, in some rare cases, your insurance provider may drop you completely.

Having such a serious traffic violation on your record will make your insurer see you as a high-risk driver. Many providers do not wish to insure drivers who have such reckless habits behind the wheel of a car. If they do keep you on, there is a good chance you will have to ask them to file an SR22 certificate with the state. SR22 filings are a requirement following being convicted of a major traffic violation.

How reckless driving or careless driving affect car insurance

SR22 insurance is a certificate of financial responsibility. It essentially tells your state that you carry at least the mandatory minimum amount of auto insurance. It is not an insurance policy and instead just proves that you carry insurance.

Since reckless behavior can result in you getting your license suspended, many states may require you to file an SR22 certificate in order to reenact your license. In order to do this, you would need to go through your insurance provider. They will file it for you.

If you have been dropped by your insurance company due to your reckless driving, there are a number of providers that specialize in SR22 insurance and can assist you. Reckless behavior behind the wheel seriously impacts every aspect of your life, especially when it comes to insurance.

What Causes Reckless Driving

While drivers are never exempt from taking responsibility for the choices they make behind the wheel, there are some things that may cause a person to drive recklessly. It may be helpful to look at the reasoning so you can know what to avoid doing when hitting the road.

Some common causes of reckless driving include:

  • Tolerating speeding - Driving over the speed limit has pretty much become second nature to drivers. In fact, sometimes, we rely on it to get to and from where we need to go. We tolerate it from other drivers and try to mimic it even if we don’t realize it. But due to this, we can lose sight of how dangerous speeding really is. It not only increases your chance of getting into an accident but also increases the forces involved in a collision. Accidents caused by speeding can result in serious injuries and, sometimes, even death. Be mindful about your driving and try to stay around the speed limit to protect not only yourself but other drivers.
  • Constantly running late - It has been found that the reason many people choose to drive recklessly is due to the fact we are always “running late.” As life becomes more demanding and we need to get to one place or another at a certain time, our likeliness of cutting corners with driving increases. We may practice more unsafe behaviors like tailgating and speeding. The more we do this, the higher the chances we have of causing serious and fatal collisions. Do your best not to rush while driving. Take preventative measures like leaving early to avoid worries about being late.
  • Increase in teen drivers on the road - There is a chance that we enable reckless driving incidents by letting teenagers drive. Now, this is not to say teenagers should never drive. The practice is great and necessary. However, teens regularly make poor decisions and believe they are untouchable. This may lead to them being reckless on the road and result in accidents with other vehicles. Ease your teen into driving and monitor them closely. No one ever wants to believe their child could cause an accident due to reckless behavior, but it is a fairly common occurrence.

Preventing Reckless Driving

Preventing reckless driving can be done by being a smart and cautious driver. Do your best not to rush, keep an eye on your speed in order to assure that you are not going beyond the legal speed limit, and be aware of other drivers as well.

If you see someone tailgating you, allow them to pass in order to avoid being the victim of a collision. You should never try to keep up with someone else’s speed if it is unreasonably faster than the legal limit. Don’t forget to also be cautious with teen drivers.

Driving is a big responsibility, and you need to take it seriously. A lot of damage can happen in a second if you choose to ignore traffic signals or weave in and out of traffic. It is never worth it to engage in careless driving and endanger the safety of yourself and others.

Want to Read more about What is Reckless Driving or similar topics? Read our articles on Driving Without Insurance and DUI Consequences.

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