What Is Considered Reckless Driving?

Many behaviors on the road can pose a substantial risk to other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and anyone else who uses the road. Reckless driving, however, can take those risks to a new level. When individuals willfully, wantonly, or otherwise deliberately drive in a way that puts others in danger, it may count as reckless driving.

Not only can reckless driving raise accident risk, but it may also increase the potential consequences to the driver, including the risk of a reckless driving charge. consult with a car accident lawyer who can help you in the legal process.

Types of Reckless Driving

Reckless driving can include a number of potentially dangerous behaviors.

Violating the Speed Limit

Drivers who exceed the speed limit by even a few miles per hour may face a charge of speeding. Drivers who exceed the posted speed limit by a considerable amount, on the other hand generally speeding more than 15 miles per hour over the posted speed limit can face reckless driving charges.

Speeding can pose many potential dangers. At high rates of speed, drivers will need to respond to potential threats more quickly. They may have less time to observe a potential problem around them, whether that means another driver pulling out in front of their vehicles or a child running into the road. Furthermore, drivers may have more trouble reacting to the normal ebb and flow of traffic or twists and turns in the road, traffic signals, or the movement of vehicles around them.

Speeding can also substantially increase the severity of an accident, including increasing the damage to the vehicle and the injury to anyone in it. At higher rates of speed, reckless drivers may have more trouble slowing down to help decrease the force of a collision, which may mean greater energy going into the collision and, therefore, more damage to everyone involved.

Swerving in and out of Traffic

Some drivers like to swerve in and out of traffic for the challenge. They enjoy the feeling of moving forward with traffic flow and avoiding potential collisions. Others may swerve in and out of traffic because they think it will help them get to their destination sooner, ignoring the potential risks they create for themselves and others on the road.

Swerving in and out of traffic, however, can substantially increase risk to others on the road. For example, a driver who does not have adequate space to change lanes may end up causing a sideswipe collision. At the same time, a driver who pulls over in front of a vehicle too abruptly then has to brake to fit with the flow of traffic, may end up causing a rear-end collision.

Drivers who swerve in and out of traffic also behave unpredictably, which means other drivers may have a much harder time keeping up with their likely movements and what they will need to do to avoid that driver. As a result, they can end up striking a driver who swerves aggressively through traffic.


Tailgating occurs when one driver stays too close to the rear of another driver’s vehicle. Often, reckless drivers try to tailgate because they think it will get them to their destination sooner. Tailgating drivers often do not have adequate room to bring their vehicles to a safe stop if the vehicle in front of them brakes.

Sometimes, they may end up missing the presence of an intersection or hazard on the road that could cause that driver to need to stop. In other cases, the rear driver may get too close to the front driver, causing a rear-end collision.

Tailgating can occur for several reasons. Reckless drivers may choose to tailgate because they want the driver in front of them to move faster, even though the front driver may not feel safe due to challenging weather conditions or other input that could raise the risk of an accident. Reckless drivers may also choose to tailgate because the front driver has angered them somehow.

For example, a reckless driver may sometimes choose to tailgate a driver who has pulled over in front of him or blocked him from changing lanes. Tailgating may serve as an expression of road rage.

Ignoring Traffic Signs and Signals

Traffic signs and signals exist to help guide drivers safely through intersections and hazards in and around the road. Those signs let drivers know when they have the right of way, when they can safely move through an intersection, and when they may need to wait for another driver before moving. In many cases, however, reckless drivers may ignore those signs altogether.

They may plow through an intersection without stopping, assuming that other drivers will get out of their way or ignore a yield sign indicating that another driver has the right of way. Reckless drivers may also ignore pedestrian crosswalks, bike lanes, or indicators that anyone other than a motor vehicle might use that space.

Other drivers often cannot predict the actions of a driver that chooses to ignore traffic signs and signals. As a result, those drivers cannot take steps to avoid a potential collision.

Driving While Distracted

Distracted driving can pose a serious problem for even the best driver. Distracted drivers have no idea what takes place around them. They may have difficulty keeping up with the flow of traffic or even keeping their vehicles in their assigned lanes. Furthermore, distracted drivers may lose the ability to keep track of pedestrians and bicycles, raising the risk of a collision with someone who has no protection from the force associated with a vehicle accident.

Minor distractions usually do not constitute reckless driving. Many drivers deal with small distractions every day behind the wheel. Taking a drink from a container with a straw, answering a passenger in the vehicle, or adjusting environmental controls may not pose a serious enough distraction to prevent a driver from keeping track of the road around him.

On the other hand, a driver who suffers from a high rate of distraction may continue to behave extremely recklessly. Distracted drivers may pay more attention to their phones than to the road, watching videos, checking social media posts, and answering phone calls without any consideration for other drivers around them.

Highly distracted drivers can even grow too engaged in conversations with someone in the vehicle. Those drivers may have little idea of what goes on around them, which means they may end up causing a dangerous collision that other drivers cannot avoid.

Pushing Another Vehicle off the Road

In some cases, reckless driving may rise to the level of deliberate aggression, including trying to force another driver off the road. Aggressive, reckless drivers may ignore the rules of the road and the rules of common courtesy. Often, road rage takes over, causing those drivers to deliberately push or even ram the vehicle off the road. These types of aggressive driving errors may result in criminal consequences.

Drag Racing

Drag racing occurs when drivers race on streets. Drag racing may frequently occur in the same location or as a one-time issue. Drag racing often causes drivers to reach dangerous speeds, swerve into traffic, or block lanes so that other drivers cannot maneuver through traffic safely. As a result, it can pose a substantial danger to everyone who shares the road with those drivers.

Drag racing can receive serious legal penalties. Other drivers may need to quickly report drag racing when they observe it due to the danger it may pose to others around them.

How a Reckless Driving Accident Might Affect Your Claim

What Is Considered Reckless Driving?

After a reckless driving accident, you may have questions about how to protect yourself. If the other driver engaged in reckless behavior on the road, does it change how you pursue compensation for the damages you may have sustained? In general, if the other driver’s negligent actions, including reckless behavior on the road, led to the accident, you may pursue compensation through a car accident claim.

The reckless driving behavior may affect the claim, including how you frame the evidence related to the reckless driving accident, what damages you can recover, and the severity of your injuries. Working with a lawyer gives you a better idea of how a reckless driving conviction might impact your claim.

Reckless Driving Charges May Serve as Evidence

If the driver that caused your accident receives reckless driving charges related to the accident, it can help establish that the other driver’s negligent actions caused or contributed heavily to the incident. A reckless driver may end up bearing liability for the accident due to the high potential for serious damage caused by that incident.

However, that does not necessarily mean you cannot pursue compensation if the other driver does not get a reckless driving conviction. A civil case may require less evidence than a criminal conviction, including a conviction in a reckless driving case. Talk to a lawyer for more information about the other driver’s actions and how you can establish liability for the accident more clearly.

Reckless Driving May Cause More Severe Injuries

In some states, you will need to use your personal injury protection coverage to cover the cost of medical treatment for your accident before you can file a claim for any additional damages. Your PIP coverage should provide immediate compensation for your medical needs, which can help streamline your ability to get the treatment you need since you will not have to wait on an injury claim to process through the insurance company before you can pay for medical treatment.

However, reckless driving accidents often result in substantial injuries, and the cost of treatment for those injuries may exceed the protection offered by your PIP coverage. If your medical costs rise beyond the protection offered by PIP insurance, you may have the right to file a claim against the reckless driver who caused your accident. Furthermore, those higher medical costs may mean you need to seek more compensation than you would if you suffered more minor injuries in the accident.

You May Receive Punitive Damages

In some cases, after the reckless driving case goes through criminal proceedings, you may receive punitive damages from the driver that caused your accident. Those damages generally have nothing to do with your injury claim.

You should not count on receiving punitive damages from the accident. However, they can add to your ability to get the compensation you deserve for your accident, particularly if you have severe injuries. A lawyer can help you determine what punitive damages the court might assign if you receive that type of compensation for your claim.

A Lawyer Can Help Shape Your Reckless Driving Claim

If you suffer injuries in an accident with a reckless driver, working with a reckless driving lawyer can help you shape your claim and improve your ability to recover the full compensation you deserve. A lawyer can help you lay out all the evidence related to your reckless driving accident, which may make it easier to establish that the other driver caused the accident.

Next, a lawyer may help you look closely at all the damages you suffered from the reckless driving accident, including how your PIP insurance, if you carry it, may impact your right to compensation. Finally, a lawyer can help fight to get you the full compensation you may deserve for those injuries.

If you suffered injuries in a reckless driving accident, a lawyer could be essential support as you move forward with your claim. Contact an attorney as soon after your accident as possible to get the full support you need.