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What is reckless driving?

Data Blocks
Data Blocks

Reckless driving is far more serious than most people are aware. Unlike careless driving and improper driving, which are both civil traffic violations, reckless driving is a criminal offense. In addition to demerit points on your license and hefty fines, reckless driving can also lead to loss in license and even jail time. It also increases auto insurance rates up to 87.5 percent.


For transportation fleets, a reckless driving charge has greater implications on business. It can worsen SMS (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety Measurement System) and BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category) score and rank, which could cause them to lose business.

The first step to prevent that from happening is to ensure you and your drivers fully understand what reckless driving is. Then there are ongoing measures you can take to identify unsafe driver behaviors and provide tailored training to correct those behaviors.

What is reckless driving

While the definition of reckless driving varies by state and local regulation, it is generally described by the FMCSA as “driving a motor vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” It is considered a conscious or intentional indifference to the rules of the road and operation of a vehicle, with knowledge that damage could be done.

A driver normally must demonstrate something more than mere negligence in the operation of a vehicle to be cited. However, they can be cited even if no accident or property damage occurred.

There are many behaviors and over a dozen specific violations that can be deemed reckless:

  • Excessive speeding (25 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit)
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Intentionally failing to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and pedestrians
  • Driving under the influence/while intoxicated
  • Racing other vehicles
  • Evading law enforcement
  • Passing on a two-lane highway over a double yellow line
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Texting while driving 

Preventing reckless driving in your fleet

Monitoring driver safety is key to preventing reckless driving. Telematics and GPS fleet tracking provides real-time and real-world insight into how drivers behave on the road. It reports on speeding, harsh braking, aggressive acceleration and sharp or erratic corning – all behaviors that indicate reckless driving.

With telematics solutions, fleet managers can also set safe driving rules and create automated alerts – for themselves and drivers – if rules are broken or at-risk of being broken.

Fleet managers can use this data to get a benchmark of fleetwide performance and identify which risky behaviors their fleet displays most often. From there they can set KPIs on safe driving and build an ongoing program to measure progress, provide training, incentivize safety and penalize dangerous behaviors.

Teletrac Navman Customizable Driver Scorecards
Driver Scorecard Report

They should also look at the individual driver level to identify who is most at-risk of reckless driving and create personalized improvements plans.

See our Fleet Safety Solution

Providing a tailored training program to prevent reckless driving

Performance data is a powerful first step for preventing reckless driving. However, ongoing feedback and in-person coaching is critical. Safe driving is not just a skill; it’s a behavior and mindset and must be continually nurtured.

Driving scorecards are a good basis for one-on-one coaching. They rank all drivers in a fleet on specific safety criteria but also track an individual's’ performance against himself or herself over time.

Pairing that driver data with event replays and footage from dashboard cameras strengthens coaching even further. Visually showing and coaching on real-world examples and incidents can be far more impactful in improving driver safety than general, theoretical behaviors.

Driver Safety Analytics

One fleet we work with was able to dramatically improve their SMS scores over a two-year period after implementing GPS tracking. It’s “Unsafe Driving” BASIC score improved from 3.82 to 1.87, and it went from the 55% percentile to 17% of U.S. carriers.

See our Driving Training Solution

Reckless driving is a far bigger issue than SMS scores, increased insurance costs and a driver potentially losing his or her livelihood. It could end in loss of life. That’s why ongoing monitoring and training to prevent and correct reckless driving is critical to any fleet’s operations.