Reckless driving causes a massive amount of fatalities and injuries each year. In fact, reckless driving causes more than half of all crash fatalities. Just because some people get away with driving recklessly doesn’t mean it’s safe. Those people are just lucky and one day, their luck will disappear.
What is reckless driving?
Reckless driving is defined as driving with willful disregard for the safety of other people and property. There are many different forms of reckless driving:
- Street racing. Street racing sounds cool, and movies like Fast & Furious make it seem like a perfectly acceptable way to spend your weekend. However, street racing is dangerous for drivers, passengers, and crowds.
In some cities, like Atlanta, law enforcement officers have started to erect sandbag barriers wherever they notice tire marks from stunt-breaking. The idea is to make it impossible to use popular areas for street racing.
In San Diego, street racing has become an epidemic. The San Diego attorney’s office prosecuted 598 illegal street racing cases between 1999-2001.
- Speeding. Speeding is the fastest way to get a ticket for reckless driving. Most police officers won’t ticket people for reckless driving unless they’re driving well above the speed limit, but there are exceptions. It’s best to stick to the speed limit.
It’s not that the roads are safer at lower speeds. The roads are safer when all cars on the road are driving at about the same speed.
- Ignoring traffic laws. Ignorance is no excuse for not following the law. Ignoring traffic laws (or not being aware of traffic laws) will still get you a ticket for reckless driving.
Traffic laws exist for everyone’s safety, although breaking some laws can have worse consequences. For instance, if you fail to stop at a 4-way stop sign and cause an accident, you’ll be ticketed and prosecuted if you caused an accident. Likewise, if using a cell phone caused you to blow through a red light and cause an accident, your call records will support a reckless driving conviction.
- Passing illegally. It’s considered reckless driving when you pass on a blind curve or when lane markers and signs indicate you may not pass another vehicle.
- Driving around railroad barriers. It doesn’t make any sense to drive around railroad barriers since an active barrier indicates a train is approaching. However, some people can’t wait and drive around the barrier. The lucky ones outrun the train. Some people aren’t that lucky.
- Passing a school bus with flashing red lights. It’s illegal to pass a school bus with red lights flashing. Kids might be crossing in any direction or both directions at once. Between 2006 and 2015, 102 kids were killed while approaching or leaving their school bus
Many of these accidents occur while the bus is stopped, has its red lights flashing, and the stop sign arm extended. For example, in 2018, four siblings were struck by a truck as they boarded their bus on a rural highway. Three of the four kids were killed and the fourth sustained non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the truck was charged with felony reckless homicide and illegally passing a school bus.
- Trying to outrun a law enforcement officer. People who speed and swerve around in traffic to avoid getting pulled over by a cop are engaged in reckless driving.
- Driving drunk. Operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be considered reckless driving on its own, but drunk drivers often drive recklessly.
Reckless driving is dangerous, period
In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 51,490 fatalities, most of which were caused by reckless driving. That’s not a number anyone can ignore.
Reckless driving is dangerous no matter how much control a person believes they have over their vehicle. People lose control of their car even when they’re following all the traffic laws and driving under the speed limit. Driving recklessly just increases the possibility of losing control and hurting yourself and others in a crash.
The plea to drive safely may sound like an overprotective warning. But the truth is that reckless driving causes fatalities and injuries that often lead to permanent disabilities.
Driving can be fun, but drivers who want to race or otherwise drive fast need to take it off the roads and onto a track. Racing is still dangerous on a track, but it won’t put innocent people’s lives at risk.