Tragically, the CDC states that the leading cause of death in the United States ages 1-54 is road traffic injuries. Fatalities caused by road accidents cause devastation across the world – tremendous financial expenses for injuries and permanent disability, as well as legal costs and vehicle damage.
When it comes to driving safely, we can find that some experts and road management organizations use the term reckless and negligent driving to be interchangeable. However, they are different – and their distinctions are significant to know.
Negligent driving is considered a civil offense, resulting from a lack of reasonable care being taken to ensure a safe environment for themselves, their passengers, and other road users. In negligent or careless driving cases, the driver can be found speeding over the prescribed limit, perhaps skipping a red light, or even failing to use turn signals. In some cases, the term “accidental” may even be used to show the unintended nature of these offenses.
Reckless driving, on the other hand, is often evaluated by the ill-intent of the driver. Their mental state motivates the punishment for the violation, as traffic officials and police would look at levels of aggression or hazard, and intent to harm people or property. Examples of reckless driving involve distracted driving (including talking or texting on cell phones), refusing to stop at red lights, failing to turn lights on at night, weaving unpredictably between lanes, drowsy driving, or public road racing.
Punishment for these different offenses differs, with negligent driving usually being perceived as a traffic violation. Reckless driving, on the other hand, is often labeled a misdemeanor and can hold serious ramifications for your record, a suspended or canceled license, and even time spent in jail. Reckless drivers, sadly, use our roads every day. But, here are some top ways to stay protected against these unpredictable, reckless offenders.
1. Never drive without insurance
In the U.S., the countrywide average of drivers who are uninsured has increased, with the numbers sitting at an estimated 1 in eight drivers. According to insurance specialists at insurancenavy.com/driving-without-insurance, the bottom line is that driving without insurance in any state is illegal. If you’re uninsured and not convinced of the potential risks, here are a few of the serious repercussions:
- Definite suspension of your license if caught.
- Potential confiscation of your license plates, and car registration – in some cases for up to 3 years.
- Major fines involved in first-time offenses, with some states penalizing uninsured drivers up to $2,500! The second and third offenses can be detrimental.
- Reinstatement fees to get your license back.
- Possible vehicle confiscation or impoundment.
If this weren’t severe enough, the cost of allowing an insurance policy to lapse is paid on renewal, almost as a last reminder to never drive uninsured ever again!
2. Ensure your insurance is up-to-date
Unfortunately, if you have been involved in a car crash that was caused by the negligence of an uninsured driver, you will have to rely on your insurance to cover the damage to property, as well as your personal injury claim. It is also important that you are not underinsured, as then your insurance will not cover all the damages.
A crucial coverage is your UM/UIM coverage, which protects you from uninsured or underinsured motorists. Nonetheless, this coverage is only valid if your insurance payments are up-to-date and all your paperwork is in order.
3. Take a defensive driving course
For better protection, if one is involved in an accident with a reckless driver, consider taking a defensive driving class or course. Insurance companies across the U.S. offer incentives to motivate their clients to improve their driving. Not only can this result in lowered insurance premiums, but a defensive driver’s course or even attending some classes will definitely increase your confidence on the roads and improve your perceptibility when encountering a reckless driver.
One of the other reasons a driving course can save you from reckless drivers is to consciously increase your reaction or response time. Through high-speed modeling of the most common hazards on the road, you will get a chance – under supervision – to practice your response, improve your defensive behavior. Learning techniques and tools to avoid taking further damage if you’re in an accident with a reckless driver may save your life.
4. Take care while driving
- Don’t drink under the influence of drugs (including non-prescription) or alcohol.
- Passengers should wear their seatbelts at all times.
- Stop driving if you are drowsy or fatigued.
- Switch your headlights on at night, dusk, or in poor weather conditions.
- Do not exceed the prescribed speed limit.
- Maintain roadworthiness and valid registration of your vehicle.
- Use your turn signals, change lanes carefully, and do so for good reason.
- Stop at red lights and stop signs.