The Main Differences Between Death by Careless & Dangerous Driving

Death by careless driving and death by dangerous driving are two common types of motoring offences in the United Kingdom. Sadly, both types of offences involve loss of life following a road accident and can lead to serious criminal prosecution. However, for most people not involved in the legal sector, it can be challenging to understand the differences between careless and dangerous driving.

We are specialists in fatal accident claims involving road accidents. In the latest article from our expert solicitors, we will explain the main differences between both types of motoring offences, and how you can receive bereavement damages if you’ve lost a loved one.

What is Careless Driving?

The standard of driving is the most critical factor when considering if someone has acted carelessly or dangerously. Every motorist has a responsibility to drive safely and competently.

Careless driving is defined by the Road Traffic Act 1988 as driving “without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road.” Generally speaking, to be charged with careless driving, the driver will be judged to have driven slightly below that of a competent driver. Careless driving may appear minor, but it can still lead to severe accidents and death and should not be treated lightly.

Examples of careless driving include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Driving too close to other vehicles
  • Running a red light
  • Overtaking on the inside
  • Turning into the path of other vehicles
  • Using a mobile phone while driving
  • Eating or smoking while driving

What is Dangerous Driving?

The Road Traffic Act 1988 defines dangerous driving as using a vehicle “dangerously on a road or other public place.” It is by far the more serious conviction. In comparison with careless driving, the threshold for being charged with dangerous driving is much more significant. The driver will be judged to have driven well below the expected standards of a competent driver.

Examples of dangerous driving include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Racing, speeding or driving aggressively
  • Driving when unfit
  • Overtaking other vehicles dangerously
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Ignoring traffic lights and road signs
  • Driving on a hard shoulder

What It Means for Prosecution

The Crown Prosecution Service will decide whether to charge someone with careless driving or dangerous driving. When a case goes to court, the prosecutors must show strong evidence that the driver’s standards either fell slightly (careless) or far below (dangerous) that of a competent driver. The driver may be charged with dangerous driving but prosecuted with the lesser charge of careless driving if it’s not proven that they acted dangerously. Evidence that can affect a verdict includes alcohol or drugs consumption, excessive speed, licence and insurance documentation, previous convictions, and competitive driving.

When it comes to sentencing, the judge will consider the degree of culpability and harm caused to another person. Causing death by careless driving comes with a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment while dangerous driving is a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment. Other possible punishments include fines, community orders and disqualification.

It’s important to note that this article only covers accidents caused by careless or dangerous driving. If a vehicle was used to intentionally harm or kill another person, this would also fall under murder or manslaughter. Likewise, using a mobile phone or driving without insurance are covered with their own offences.

Get Compensation for Death by Careless/Dangerous Driving

If you’ve been affected by a death caused by careless or dangerous driving, it’s important not to suffer alone. Careless driving compensation and dangerous driving compensation are vital for receiving financial support and coming to terms with your loss. Get in touch with us today, and one of our solicitors will explain how we can help you.

Posted: October 27, 2021 at 11:11 am