How to Handle Riding with a Reckless Driver
People do not like being criticized. And habits are hard to break. These two facts often stop people from speaking up when they are riding with a reckless driver.
But your life is on the line. Driving or riding in a car is probably the most life-threatening thing you do each day, so speak up. Who knows? You might save more than one life by talking down a reckless driver.
Definition of Reckless Driving
What kinds of behaviors qualify as reckless driving? The closest Missouri law gets to “reckless driving,” is “careless and imprudent driving.” Missouri’s revised statute 304.012 instructs every person operating a motor vehicle to “drive the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed so as not to endanger the property of another or the life or limb of any person and shall exercise the highest degree of care.”
Oh, and if you don’t? Class B misdemeanor for you. Unless you cause an accident—then it’s a class A misdemeanor.
Examples of imprudent behaviors are excessive speed, aggressive driving, road rage, or passing other drivers when it’s not safe. If you are riding in the car, reckless driving will most likely be a “know it when you see it” situation, because you will feel scared or worried about the safety of yourself and others.
Consider Your Relationship to the Driver
If the reckless driver is a taxi, Uber, or Lyft driver, you can make up an excuse and cut your ride short. Chances are, however, that you are riding with a relative or friend. This makes things more complicated because you do not want to offend them. Again, this is a time where you should go with your instinct—speak up when you are uncomfortable.
Tips for Yourself and Your Driver
If you do say something to your driver, he or she might brush you off and continue driving the same way. Thankfully, there are some things you can do independently as a rider to protect yourself.
- Always wear a seat belt – more than half of those who died in a car accident in 2015 were unrestrained.
- If possible, ride in the backseat, preferably the middle seat, which has been shown to be the safest place to ride in a car.
- Avoid further distracting the driver with your phone, yelling, etc.
- Offer to be the car DJ, handling music and texting for the driver so he or she is less distracted.
Telling a driver you will not continue to ride with him if he drives recklessly is a strong stance you can take. If you do say this, however, it is important to follow through. If your friend or relative refuses to change his or her driving behavior, maintain your stance. Don’t get in the car.
In the end, it’s about perspective. Try to remember that protecting your life (and your friend’s life) is worth briefly irritating your driver.
If worst comes to worst and you are injured in a reckless driving accident, you have legal rights. Speak to the attorneys at Norton & Norfleet, P.C., to find out what can be done at (816) 454-5800.