The offence of careless driving, frequently referred to as “driving without due care and attention”, is committed when a motorist’s driving falls below the standard expected of a competent driver.
Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (RTA 1988) creates two possible offences for careless driving: (1) driving a motor vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention or (2) without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place. The penalties are the same for both: a fine of up to £2500, mandatory endorsement with three to nine penalty points, and discretionary disqualification.
What amounts to careless driving?
Any person who has visited a foreign country will almost certainly agree that the standard of driving in the United Kingdom is one of the highest in the world. However, a minority of motorists in this country drive both recklessly and irresponsibly. This careless driving is a major cause of accidents on UK roads many of which result in serious injuries.
The law does not actually state what constitutes careless driving but courts have said the offence of careless driving is committed when the standard of driving falls below the standard expected of a reasonable and competent driver. ‘Careless driving’ can include;
- Disobeyed traffic sign or signal
- Driving too close
- Wrong course position
- Misjudging speed or distance
- inattention or attention diverted
- Junction overshoot
- Turning without care
- Making a ‘U’ turn without care
- changing lanes without care
- reversing without care
- stopping or starting without care
- overtaking without care
- emerging from minor road without care
- emerging from private road or entrance without care
- crossing or entering road junction without care
- distracted by action inside or outside the vehicle
- driving whilst fatigued
What is the penalty for ‘careless driving’?
The offence of careless driving is one that can normally only be heard in the magistrates’ court. The penalties that can be imposed by the court range from a fine of up to £2500 and 3-9 penalty points to disqualification and being ordered to take a re-test before resuming driving. Aggravating and mitigating factors will be taken into account before sentencing.