Common Dangerous and Reckless Driving Behaviors Explored

Monday, May 29, 2017

Common Dangerous and Reckless Driving Behaviors Explored

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Car Accident Attorney Protecting Victims of Reckless Drivers throughout Chicago

Anyone operating a motor vehicle in the state of Illinois is required to adhere to all traffic laws. Furthermore, drivers must take precaution so that they do not endanger the lives of those on the road with them. If drivers fail to uphold this obligation, they could be held liable for any damages and injuries they cause as a result. Sometimes, this failure does more than cause an inconvenient accident; it could take an innocent victim’s life, or leave a victim permanently disabled. In fact, in 2015, reckless, negligent, and erratic driving accounted for 1,755 fatal crashes or 3.6 percent of the total auto fatalities, per recent NHTSA numbers.

Driving a Vehicle is a Privilege

Sadly, many motorists do not realize that operating a motor vehicle is not a right – it is a privilege. Not only could you lose your license for reckless driving, but if a reckless driver causes an accident, there is also the risk of jail or prison time and a civil suit.

Driving a vehicle is dangerous – even for cautious, safe drivers. Many people are involved in accidents each day in the state, and operator error or pure negligence is typically to blame. While some of these maneuvers on the road are erratic and brainless, it is imperative that anyone operating a vehicle understand the most common reckless driving acts to avoid them.

If you are involved in an accident with a driver who displays erratic behavior, you might be entitled to compensation. Contact an injury attorney from Malman Law directly to explore your options.

What Are the Most Common Examples of Reckless and Erratic Driving Behaviors?

While there are dozens of ways in which a person can be reckless or exhibit erratic behavior behind the wheel, some are more common than others.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

Drinking and driving or driving while under the influence of drugs is reckless driving. DUIs cause accidents, period. The vast majority of fatalities on the road today are caused by drunken or drugged drivers. Alcohol and certain drugs (including prescription medications) can affect a person’s ability to drive, as well as the ability to react. Reaction times slow dramatically, which means that a motorist might not brake in time, may not maneuver to avoid an accident, and so forth. A person who drives under the influence is likely to not only face criminal charges, but be found negligent by the courts in a civil case.

Fatigued Driving

Most adults do not get the recommended number of hours of sleep. After all, we live busy lives where we must rush from one thing to another, take care of children, hold down the house, and still have a career. Sadly, this means that there are hundreds to thousands of motorists on the road driving with severe levels of fatigue.

What people often do not realize is that driving drowsy is just as dangerous as drunken driving. The body requires sleep. If a person does not give the body adequate rest, he or she will be sleepy, inattentive, and have slowed reaction times that can lead to devastating accidents. Fatigued driving is negligent and reckless, too.


There are speed limits for a reason. Whether you are in a residential neighborhood or on the freeway, you see posted speed limit signs. The speed limit is the maximum speed that anyone can drive on that particular road. A person who chooses to ignore the speed limits and drive over it – or excessively over it (such as 20 miles or more per hour) – is reckless.

Speeding is one of the leading causes of traffic fatalities after drunken and fatigued driving. Vehicle speed increases crash severity, too. So, an accident where the reckless driver is driving 20 miles per hour over the limit is usually much more severe than an accident at the posted speed limit.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is becoming a big concern throughout the United States. More people are using devices in their vehicles – whether the devices are built into the vehicle itself or through their mobile devices.

While many equate distracted driving to cellphone use, there is a plethora of other ways in which a person can be distracted behind the wheel, including:

  • Talking to passengers
  • Using a GPS unit
  • Adjusting temperature controls
  • Adjusting mirrors
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Dealing with children in the vehicle
  • Looking at things on the side of the road
  • Applying makeup
  • Eating or drinking

Distracted drivers are autonomous, but they are not aware of their surroundings. They are not driving safely, and they might not see certain things – including pedestrians, children crossing the road, or when the vehicle in front of them has come to a full stop. Bottom line: Distracted driving is reckless.

Driving Too Fast for the Weather Conditions

Illinois is home to various types of weather. In the winter, we see massive bouts of snow and ice. In the spring we get plenty of rain. In the summer, the roads are hot, but some windstorms can be so severe that they make it difficult for larger vehicles to operate. While there are posted speed limits, drivers are expected to adjust their speed to road conditions and weather. If the roads are icy and slippery, you wouldn’t drive 65 miles per hour.

When a driver ignores the weather conditions and continues at the posted speed limit, he or she could still be considered reckless. Furthermore, if the driver causes an accident because of a failure to adjust the speed, he or she is still reckless and liable for any accidents caused.

Weather-related accidents are extremely common in the United States. While most occur in the winter, do not assume that a rainstorm, high winds, or a dusting of snow do not warrant slower speeds.

Following Too Closely to Leading Vehicles

Following a leading vehicle too closely is dangerous and reckless. Drivers who are in a hurry tend to tailgate those who are driving the speed limit. While they assume the lead vehicle would pull to the side and let them pass, often the leading vehicle cannot. When a driver tailgates another vehicle, they limit the amount of time they have to stop. Sometimes, they cannot stop at all if the lead vehicle suddenly brakes.

Between vehicles, you should have 1.4666 feet per second for every mile per hour that your vehicle is traveling. This is known as the three-second rule. So, at 60 miles per hour, you should have 88 feet behind the vehicle ahead. However, rarely do motorists ever use this rule. When drivers are not properly distancing themselves from lead vehicles and they cause an accident, they will be considered liable for that accident and injuries that might result from it.

Swerving, Weaving, and Other Reckless Behaviors

It’s likely that you have seen a reckless driver on the road with you. They are everywhere. You might even be guilty of recklessly getting from Point A to Point B now and again.

Reckless driving behaviors are not just limited to the above characteristics. They also involve weaving and swerving in between traffic. These erratic and highly unpredictable behaviors make it hard for other motorists to react properly, but also for the erratic driver to react. Weaving in and out of traffic does not gain more miles, but it does increase the risk of an accident.

What if the driver in the other lane suddenly brakes? Or, what if the weaving driver does not check before changing lanes and collides with another vehicle? Vehicles are supposed to indicate their lane changes with blinkers, and ensure that there are no vehicles in the other lane. It is also illegal to weave in and out of traffic.

Ignoring the Right of Way

A reckless driver is one who does not care about the rules of the road. One of the biggest offenses made by reckless drivers is failing to yield the right of way. If you are going straight through an intersection, and a vehicle is waiting to make a left turn that crosses traffic, it is supposed to yield. However, all too often, drivers who are impatient will speed through the intersection and not yield the right of way to the driver passing through. The result? The vehicle passing through often strikes the other vehicle – and these accidents can be catastrophic at higher speeds.

Injured by a Reckless Driver? You Have Rights

If you or a loved one was injured by a reckless driver, you have rights. The personal injury attorneys at Malman Law are here to assist you with your case. Whether you are dealing with an insurance company or if it is time to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver, our team works as your advocates. We ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve by fighting aggressively to preserve your right to compensation. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation by contacting an attorney 24 hours per day, seven days per week or request your appointment online.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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