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What is the Difference Between Negligent and Reckless Driving?

May 10th, 2017 by

Negligent and reckless driving cases may result in injuries and damages that are essentially the same. If there are similar injuries or damages to one’s property, you may be wondering about the differences when it comes to negligent vs reckless driving. The latter tends to have worse consequences in many states across the nation. Negligent driving is typically a civil traffic offense, but reckless driving may be considered a crime.

negligent-driving

Reckless driving includes unlawful and unsafe driving with a disregard for the safety of other motorists and pedestrians. Individuals who engage in reckless driving are aware of the risks involved with their actions behind the wheel, but continue to drive in a dangerous manner. A reckless driver has not only taken unnecessary risks but do so in areas where the chances of injuries or damages are high. Due to the willfulness and intention of the driver, it is usually considered a criminal activity. Examples of reckless driving include:

  • Driving well above the speed limit
  • Not using turn signals when turning or changing lanes
  • Driving under the influence
  • Texting or talking on the phone
  • Refusing to stop at Stop signs and/or red lights
  • Failing to turn on lights while driving at night or in rainy conditions
  • Racing on public roads

man texting while driving recklessly

Negligence occurs when drivers fail to use reasonable care while operating a vehicle, which could lead to personal injuries and damages to one or more vehicles. Drivers have a legal obligation to act in a certain manner that is dictated by law but when he or she proceeds to breach that duty by acting in a particular manner or failing to act at all, they are being negligent. Unlike reckless drivers, negligent drivers do not know about the inherent risks associated with their behavior, which is why these accidents are often classified under traffic infractions. Negligent driving includes:

  • Unintentionally failing to provide a safe environment for other drivers and pedestrians
  • Incidents where the term “accidental” may be used to describe the event
  • Driving on private property without the owner’s consent
  • Driving under the influence of non-prescribed drugs or alcohol

Penalties for negligent and reckless driving differs by state, but may include suspension of one’s driver’s license, fines, and even imprisonment depending on the severity of the accident. Given the more serious nature of reckless driving, the consequences associated are greater than negligent driving.

Avoid reckless and negligent driving to keep yourself, fellow motorists, and pedestrians safe by following these tips for safe driving:

  • Allow plenty of time to get to your final destination. This will help you avoid speeding, changing lanes quickly without signaling, and overall aggressive driving.
  • Wear glasses and/or contact lenses when driving to see clearly, especially at night.
  • Avoid distracted driving such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, and playing with the radio. When engaged in any of these activities, it’s easy to go too fast, swerve into other lanes, and run traffic lights/signs.
  • Don’t drive under the influence. Always assign a designated driver, keep a local taxi number handy, or stay at a friend’s place. A conviction related to DUI can lead to license suspension and jail time.
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