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What Does Careless Driving Mean And How To Avoid It?

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Speeding, drink driving, parking on double yellow lines. These traffic offences are all clear-cut and self-explanatory. Most of us know that they’re against the law. ‘Careless driving’ on the other hand sounds a little ambiguous. Although, where the law is concerned, careless driving can be a criminal offence so it’s a good idea to know what it’s all about to avoid getting into trouble. Read our essential guide on careless driving to find out more.


What is careless driving?

Careless driving is an umbrella term which encompasses any driving activity which is performed ‘without due care and attention’. This usually means you’ve neglected to consider the convenience or safety of other road users or pedestrians when driving.


How to avoid careless driving?

Throughout your driving lessons you should be taught how to drive responsibly and the onus is on you to maintain a clean record as a competent and careful driver.

There is no complete list, however the following are considered some prime examples of ‘careless driving’:

  • Tailgating (following too closely behind another vehicle)
  • Not giving way at a junction
  • Overtaking and forcing your way into a queue of traffic
  • Using the wrong lane at a roundabout
  • Lane hogging, hopping or weaving
  • Wheel spins
  • Hand brake turns
  • Being distracted while driving – operating a satnav, switching radio channels, etc
  • Overtaking and causing an approaching or overtaking vehicle to brake
  • Dazzling drivers with full beam lights

You won’t necessarily get on the wrong side of the law for these actions, but if you cause an accident or the police catch you, you should expect to feel the full force of the ‘careless driving’ law.

To avoid careless driving it’s best to familiarise yourself with the rules in the Highway Code and always focus on the road ahead when you’re driving.


Is careless driving a criminal offence?

According to The Road Traffic Act 1988, “a person is to be regarded as driving without due care and attention if (and only if) the way he drives falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.”

So, there you have it. If you become lousy behind the wheel or neglect to consider others on the road, you could wind up with a Fixed Penalty Notice. Worst case scenario? If someone dies as a result of your careless driving you could go to prison for up to five years.


Is careless driving the same as dangerous driving?

While they are both driving offences, careless driving is not as serious as dangerous driving. Dangerous driving is when your driving puts others at serious risk of harm. While you’ll be in more trouble if you’re caught driving dangerously than if you’re convicted of careless driving, both can cause harm to you and other road users and should be avoided.


Does careless driving go on your record?

If you get points on your licence for careless driving these will remain on your record for four years.


We hope this guide has helped clear up any confusion about careless driving. After all, part of becoming a responsible driver is knowing the rulebook and the law.

If you’re looking for Driving Lessons Peterborough, GoGoGo offers an intensive driving course which teaches everything you need to know in just 5 days. We give you the confidence and competence to be a safe and responsible driver.

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