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4 Signs You’re a Reckless Driver

Reckless driving poses serious dangers to drivers and passengers.

In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that more than 51,000 people died on U.S. roads. Reckless driving accounted for the majority of those deaths.

Reckless driving in Virginia continues to threaten drivers’ and passengers’ safety. Unfortunately, many drivers do not realize that they are driving recklessly. If you exhibit the following behaviors, it may be a sign you are a reckless driver.

What Is Reckless Driving?

Reckless driving definitions differ slightly from state to state.

Virginia law defines several situations that constitute reckless driving, including:

  • Speeding in excess of 80 mph,
  • Speeding 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit,
  • Racing,
  • Passing or overtaking an emergency vehicle,
  • Passing a school bus,
  • Passing on a crest of a hill,
  • Passing at a railroad crossing,
  • Driving too fast for conditions, and
  • Failing to give a proper signal.

Besides these specific examples, reckless driving occurs whenever a driver causes a situation that endangers the life, limb, or property of another person.

Driving Too Fast for Conditions

Driving conditions can change quickly. Even if you are following posted speed limits, you still may be driving recklessly if the conditions are unsafe.

If you live in Virginia, you know that the winters are cold and harsh. Snow and cold weather are common. When temperatures drop below 32 degrees, water on the roads may freeze, making driving dangerous. Drivers must adjust their speed so that they can safely operate the vehicle. If you are not adjusting your speed for conditions, you may be driving recklessly. Wet or frozen roads make vehicles more difficult to control.

Other examples of unsafe driving conditions include:

  • Low visibility,
  • Tight corners with no shoulder,
  • Uneven roads, and
  • Construction zones.

Driving too quickly in any of these conditions may be reckless and lead to a greater likelihood of accidents.

Ignoring Traffic Signals

Many drivers push the limits when it comes to traffic signals. While catching a yellow light may help you save time, such driving behaviors only make driving more dangerous. Traffic lights and other signals help protect drivers by creating reasonable traffic safety requirements.

When drivers ignore or fail to follow designated traffic signals, their reckless driving can cause accidents.  If you run a lot of yellow lights, you likely exhibit several other reckless driving behaviors.

Running yellow lights normally requires accelerating into an intersection. This acceleration reduces your response time. Such driving can create dangers if other drivers or pedestrians are also entering the intersection. If your timing is off, you may run a red light and risk colliding with traffic at the intersection.

Running or rolling through stop signs creates similar hazards. Stop signs are not designed to irritate drivers. They encourage cautious driving in potentially hazardous road intersections. Rolling through stop signs limits your ability to yield to other traffic or pedestrians and increases the risk of collisions.

Tailgating

Tailgating contributes to a high number of traffic accidents.

According to NHTSA, 33% of all car accidents are rear-end collisions. Virginia has the 5th highest rate of tailgating nationwide.

Many drivers do not even realize they follow too closely. Driving schools teach student drivers to maintain a following distance of at least three seconds behind the vehicle ahead. This distance may increase depending on the road conditions and speed of the vehicle.

Following too closely is reckless and significantly increases the chances you will cause a collision.

Distracted Driving

With the rise in cell phone use, distracted driving causes more crashes than ever before. In 2018, the NHTSA reported that one in four drivers used a cell phone prior to a car accident.

Reckless behaviors commonly associated with distracted driving include:

  • Texting or talking on the phone,
  • Applying makeup,
  • Eating,
  • Adjusting the radio or other dials, and
  • Talking to passengers.

Such behaviors while driving take your attention away from the road. Sending or reading just one text message takes your eyes off the road for approximately five seconds. At 55 mph, you can travel the length of an entire football field in that time.

If you perform other tasks or use your phone while driving, you are driving recklessly. Your actions may endanger yourself and others on the road.

Reckless Driving Leads to Serious Consequences

Besides the increased risk of car accidents, reckless driving also carries serious legal consequences.

In Virginia, reckless driving convictions cost between $300 and $1,000, plus attorney fees, court costs, and possible driving classes. In addition, courts may suspend your license for driving recklessly.

The bottom line: driving recklessly creates too many risks. Driving is a wonderful past time, but you should enjoy it safely.