What Is Careless Driving?
Tickets for careless driving are the most common tickets handed out by the police. When you have been driving long enough, you are certain you know what careless driving looks like. The truth is, however, that at some point in life you may drive in a way that is considered careless. Sometimes, more experienced drivers may make the mistake of trying something risky because they are too confident in their abilities. A less experienced driver may also be prone to this behavior. Understanding what careless driving is, what it may include, and the consequences will help weigh out your options when driving.
What is careless driving?
Many legislations in the United States carry the term careless driving to distinguish it from reckless driving. The two are not always considered or treated the same. Careless driving is often defined under various United States state legislations as driving a vehicle “without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other vehicles on the road.” Some legislations do not separate careless driving from reckless driving, but where careless driving is defined, it will usually be some variant of the above phrase.
Some examples of careless driving
To clear things up, here are some examples of what might be considered careless driving:
- Wearing sunglasses at night while driving or failing to wear sunglasses when driving in sunny weather with a high glare hitting the vehicle;
- Scraping a car in a car park;
- Driving out of a residential area into the main road right into the path of another driver, without checking if the path was clear;
- Overtaking without being cautious;
- Changing lanes without being cautious;
- Disobeying traffic signals or not paying attention to traffic signals.
As you can see from the above, one of the characteristics of careless driving is a lack of consideration for the rules and for other people on the road, whether intentional or unintentional. States that have defined the term tend to define it in the manner of actual harm to people or property rather than the driver’s mental condition.
Consequences of careless driving
Penalties and punishments by the police for careless driving usually vary between states in the United States.
- Penalties - In general, states tend to fix lower penalties for careless driving than for reckless driving. In some states, a higher amount is fixed when there is a bodily injury to a person or death of a person.
- Jail time – A careless driver could also potentially face jail time, at the discretion of a court, in addition to the penalty if he has been found guilty.
- Hits to your record – Careless driving could result in demerit points on your license. If you already have some demerit points on your record, you could be asked to meet with the authorities to discuss whether you should be allowed to keep your license.
- Court visit – Because of the room for interpretation that the definition permits, some drivers may choose to fight the charge in court. If you do feel you have been wronged by the charge, professional assistance from lawyers can be helpful. It is important to note that the burden of proof is usually on the driver to show that they were not driving carelessly, which can be difficult to arrange.
- Insurance – As a result of being charged and convicted with careless driving, insurance companies will consider you a higher risk and up your premiums for insuring your vehicle.
As a rule of thumb, being safe and vigilant on the road, no matter what the time of day and how experienced a driver, is always the best course of action.
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