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Ask Men's Health

What’s the difference between ‘careless’, ‘reckless’, ‘inconsiderate’ and ‘dangerous’ driving?


‘Dangerous’ driving is when a driver shows a selfish disregard for the safety and creates a situation that endangers other road users. For example, speeding along the slow traffic lane, or overtaking a vehicle from the left.

If you take unnecessary risks when you drive, that’s ‘reckless’. Especially when you’re aware of the risks involved. Speeding is not the only form of recklessness either. If you’re ill, disabled or sleepy and you drive, that’s considered reckless because you know that you’re at risk of endangering other road users.

The ‘careless’ driver fails to exercise care and attention that’s reasonably expected of a prudent and competent driver. If you don’t  comply with Highway Code, that’s regarded as careless. Having knowledge of the careless act is not essential. So, if you unknowingly hit a stationery vehicle, you’re guilty of careless driving.

Failing to dip your headlights in the face of oncoming traffic is regarded as being ‘inconsiderate’ to other road users. Inconsiderate driving simply means you’re not considerate of other road users.

Don’t forget ‘drunk’ driving, which is also important: It need only be shown that the alcohol content on your breath or blood specimen exceeds the legal limit of 35 micrograms per 100 ml of breath or 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. The offence is simply being ‘in charge of a motor vehicle’ while unfit to drive due to inebriation. And to be ‘in charge’ simply means having possession of the car keys!


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