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What is Reckless Driving and What Are the Consequences?

Car and Driver released an article earlier this year, “Traffic Safety Trends to Keep an Eye On in 2021,” and one trend they discussed is how driving practices shifted during the pandemic. 

One change is especially concerning–according to a report released by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, complicated data showed that while there was an overall decline in car crash fatalities, there was an actual increase in the fatality rate. Even though there were fewer drivers on the road, sadly, a higher percentage of motorists were involved in fatal crashes. 

In the report by the NHTSA, the reason for this increase was because “drivers who remained on the roads engaged in more risky behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seatbelts, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.” They also stated in the report that average speeds increased during the pandemic and extreme speeding became much more common.

These statistics point out one of the main features of a reckless driver–a motorist who knowingly participates in illegal driving that consistently creates dangerous consequences to other drivers, innocent bystanders, or pedestrians.

Defining Reckless Driving

Almost all drivers have experienced a reckless driver in their lifetime. A reckless driver is the person on the interstate flying past you; you might not know the exact speed limit they are going, but you can tell by how fast they pass you that they are pushing way beyond the bounds of the actual speed limit. 

Another scenario that most people have experienced at least once is when two cars at a red light rev up their engines and start street racing right when the light turns green. These are dangerous situations for innocent motorists caught in the middle of other driver’s illegal activity.

Overall, using the term “reckless” with driving is defined as a person who knowingly engages in risky driving conduct–they should know that their actions could be dangerous, but they engage in the activity despite the potential hazard. In Indiana, reckless driving is defined as operating a vehicle recklessly as well as any of the following:

  • Driving at an unreasonably high or low speed where it endangers the safety of individuals or personal property. This also includes driving that blocks the proper flow of traffic
  • Excessive speeding that may include passing illegally or swerving in and out of traffic at high speeds or dangerously cutting off other cars
  • Passing another driver on a curve or slope where driver visibility is limited to less than 500 feet
  • As described earlier, drag racing, where vehicles are extremely above the speed limit racing on public streets
  • Passing a school bus that is stopped and has its arm signal in an extended position
  • Driving on the sidewalk, or, on highways, driving on the shoulder for purposes other than pulling over to stop on the shoulder

Reckless driving causes a large number of accidents, and reckless drivers knowingly put other drivers or bystanders in harm’s way. Whether they are in a fit of road rage or simply racing to make it on time, their driving behavior is unsafe for themselves and others.

The Consequences of Reckless Driving

Reckless drivers can be charged with a Class A or B misdemeanor in the state of Indiana, depending on the severity of their legal case. Consequences can range from a driver’s license suspension to prison time. The consequences will depend on the type of conviction, but here are some of the possible penalties:

  • A standard reckless driving offense is usually based on two types of events. One is when the driver passes another driver on a curve or slope where driver visibility is limited to less than 500 feet. The other is when a driver is going too slow or too fast–in most cases this means excessive speeding. These charges are usually a class C misdemeanor and a conviction can mean up to 60 days in jail and $500 maximum in fines.
  • When a driver unlawfully passes a school bus, it is a class B misdemeanor. If a driver is convicted, they face up to 180 days in jail and a $1000 maximum in fines.
  • If there is property damage due to reckless driving, it is a class B misdemeanor. Along with the class B penalties, a judge can suspend the driver’s license for up to a year.
  • A motorist who injures another person due to the driver’s reckless driving is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. If convicted, the consequences include up to one year in jail, a $5,000 maximum in fines, and up to a year of a suspended license.

What to do Following an Accident with a Reckless Driver

To see an extended list of the important steps to take after an accident, please read our blog post here. To help give an overview, here are the steps to take following an auto accident:

  • Ensure the safety of yourself and others
  • Collect information from other accident victims and witnesses
  • Photograph the accident scene and any injuries
  • File an accident report
  • Go to the doctor
  • Call an attorney

Our  Auto Accident Attorneys Can Help

Reckless drivers have the ability to cause serious injury due to their dangerous driving. A speeding car is going to have more force on impact and inevitably, then, does more harm than a basic accident. In these types of cases, you need an attorney who can provide the essential help you need.

With years of experience, the seasoned car accident attorneys at Crossen Law Firm understand that suffering from injuries can be not just emotionally taxing, but financially expensive, too. As if it wasn’t challenging enough having to miss out on wages or losing your earning capacity from having to miss or quit work, you may also have mounting medical bills and property damage you can’t afford. Our team is here to pursue the compensation you deserve to pay for these expenses and more.  

Our Indianapolis car accident attorney is a dedicated advocate for seriously injured people. Our aim is to effectively and completely handle the legal process for you. Get started on your case today by scheduling a free consultation about your situation. Call 317-401-8626 or contact us online.

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