What Are the Differences Between Reckless Driving, Road Rage, and Careless Driving?
If you were in an auto accident that was not your fault, there is a fair chance you were the victim of careless driving, reckless driving, or road rage. What are the differences between the three? What are examples of each? What should you do if you were in an accident as a result of one of these types of driving?
Here is what you should know about reckless driving, careless driving, and road rage.
What Is Careless Driving?
Careless driving describes behaviors behind the wheel that can jeopardize the safety of others on the road, including other drivers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. However, there is no intent behind the behavior to harm others.
While the exact definition of careless driving varies by state, in Florida it means the following (taken from Florida Statute §316.1925):
“Any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. Failure to drive in such manner shall constitute careless driving and a violation of this section.”
Careless driving is a traffic violation that comes with hefty fines and points added to your license. So, how can you prevent careless driving? It is really simple; driving should be your only task when behind the wheel. Putting all other distractions behind you and staying alert in the driver’s seat can help to reduce the incidence of careless driving. Also, remember to follow the rules of the road, like stopping at red lights and stop signs and obeying the speed limit.
Examples of Careless Driving
Careless driving may include things like:
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Using a cell phone or texting while driving
- Disobeying traffic signs
- Not using turn signals
- Illegal lane changes
What Is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving is a more severe violation than careless driving that involves intentionally driving in a way that may put other drivers in danger. Law enforcement officers may deem reckless drivers to have a “willful or wanton disregard” for human life and the safety of others on the road.
In some instances, distracted driving or drowsy driving may be considered types of reckless driving, and for good reason: distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019, while drowsy driving caused 697 deaths the same year.
Examples of Reckless Driving
Examples of reckless driving include:
- Driving under the influence
- Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
- Drag racing
- Going around stopped school buses
- Driving the wrong way
- Texting while driving
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Weaving in and out of lanes
- Driving on the sidewalk
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Crossing a double yellow line on a highway
What Are Road Rage and Aggressive Driving?
Road rage is defined as “a motorist’s uncontrolled anger that is usually provoked by another motorist’s irritating act and is expressed in aggressive or violent behavior.” On the other hand, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as “any combination of traffic offenses or general behaviors that endanger persons or property.”
Essentially, road rage is an extremely dangerous form of aggressive driving. In the worst cases of road rage, drivers may follow other cars home to physically confront somebody, stalk other drivers, or intentionally hit other vehicles. The NHTSA considers aggressive driving a traffic offense and road rage as a criminal charge.
What Causes Road Rage?
Every driver occasionally becomes frustrated due to poor judgment of other drivers or traffic conditions. Road rage is when that anger persists and increases, potentially leading to disastrous consequences. While young men seem to be most susceptible to road rage, it can affect people of any age or gender because anyone can take offense at what they think another driver is doing.
Examples of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving
Some examples of aggressive driving and road rage include:
- Yelling at other drivers
- Racing another vehicle
- Suddenly speeding up or braking
- Following too closely or tailgating
- Flashing lights
- Cutting off other vehicles
- Driving in forbidden areas, such as medians, sidewalks, or shoulders
- Passing where prohibited
- Weaving in and out of lanes
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Angry, unnecessary honking
- Making an improper turn
- Excessive speeding
- Making threatening or rude gestures at other drivers
- Displaying a gun or another weapon
- Intentionally causing a crash
Are Reckless Driving and Road Rage the Same Thing?
While road rage is one type of reckless driving, reckless driving does not always include road rage. For example, distracted driving, driving under the influence, and excessive speeding are types of reckless driving that may not involve road rage.
What Should I Do if I See Somebody Driving Recklessly?
While you cannot avoid all encounters with people driving recklessly, there are some things you can do to limit your chances of getting into an accident with them:
- Stay alert and be a defensive driver. Stay away from aggressive drivers when possible.
- Don’t engage with the driver. Give them plenty of room, and avoid making eye contact if they’re acting angry near you. Think about calling the police if you suspect an aggressive driver is following you.
- Allow them to pass you.
- Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand why they are driving poorly. Don’t take their behavior personally.
- Don’t offend aggressive drivers by tailgating, driving slowly in the left lane, cutting them off, or obscene gesturing.
- Remain calm.
What Should I Do if I Was Hit By a Reckless or Careless Driver in South Florida?
If you have been in an accident caused by a reckless or careless driver in Florida, contact SteinLaw today for a free consultation. We may be able to get you compensation for your injuries and other damages. Click here or call 877-STEINLAW today. We have locations in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Miami, Fort Myers, and Aventura to serve you.