Bad drivers are easy to recognize – but what about negligent ones?

Although “bad” and “negligent” are often used interchangeably, negligence has a specific meaning in the eyes of the law. Let’s take a closer look at how you can identify negligent drivers and, more importantly, avoid acting negligent when behind the wheel.   

What is Negligent Driving?

New Jersey law divides driving offenses into three categories:

  • Negligent Driving
  • Reckless Driving
  • Careless Driving

Negligent driving is when a driver acts dangerously on the road but they don’t understand the inherent dangers of their actions. Examples include speeding, failing to yield, and generally creating an unsafe environment for others. The punishments for negligent driving are traffic violations, not criminal charges.

Reckless driving involves a stronger level of disregard for the dangers of the behavior. For instance, weaving through traffic, driving while intoxicated, and excessive speeding are all considered reckless driving.

Careless driving is a category that lets law enforcement issue a ticket if a driver’s dangerous or improper actions don’t fit into the other two categories.

Tips for Not Being a Negligent Driver

Negligent driving is often unintentional. The negligent driver likely doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong, or at least anything significantly dangerous. Follow these tips to avoid driving negligently:

Keep Your Vehicle Well-Maintained

Simple, consistent maintenance plays a vital role in avoiding negligent driving. Bald tires, cracked windshields, worn brakes, and other seemingly minor issues can all increase the likelihood of an accident.

Adhere to all regularly scheduled maintenance. Change your oil and rotate your tires about every 5,000 miles. Never ignore any dashboard warning lights.

Obey the Rules of the Road

Traffic laws exist to keep everyone safe. By following them, your behavior on the road remains predictable, and you’re less likely to engage in negligent actions.

You likely already know the basics of New Jersey traffic laws: obey the speed limit, signal when turning, and so on. But you should also familiarize yourself with more obscure regulations, such as the Move Over Law, requiring you to give way to emergency vehicles, and the law requiring you to stop within at least 15 feet of a railroad crossing.

Plan Ahead

If you’re feeling stressed and angry on the road, you’re more likely to speed, switch lanes erratically, tailgate, and otherwise engage in negligent behavior.

Try to avoid traveling during the busiest times of the year, such as the day before Thanksgiving, Labor Day weekend, July Fourth, and other major holidays. If you hit the road either earlier or later than the bulk of traffic, you’ll have an easier and safer trip.

Stay Sober

Of course, you know not to drive drunk or while under the influence of drugs, but even buzzed driving lowers your inhibitions and increases your chances of acting negligently.

New Jersey law prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle if the driver’s BAC is .08 or higher. The law also permits DUI convictions for drivers with lower BAC levels. Even if you’ve only had a small amount of alcohol, your best option is to avoid driving entirely.  

Model Good Behavior

When teaching someone to drive, every action you perform, and don’t perform, matters. Display safe driving behavior by focusing on the road, obeying all laws, and controlling your emotions.

To help your student avoid negligent habits, try the following strategies:

  • Ask them to identify negligent driving in others
  • Teach them basic maintenance techniques
  • Help them learn New Jersey traffic laws

Learning safe driving habits at an early age helps prevent negligent driving behaviors for a lifetime.

What if an Accident Occurs Due to Negligent Driving?

Drivers have a legal responsibility to provide “duty of care,” meaning they must operate their vehicle in a way that prevents injuries to anyone else. If they’re negligent in providing this duty of care, and an accident occurs, any injured parties can potentially file a personal injury claim.

Filing a claim against a negligent driver allows the injured party to receive compensation for medical bills, lost income, property damage, and even intangible losses such as pain and suffering. While New Jersey is a no-fault state, meaning your insurance company covers the bulk of your loss, filing a claim helps cover additional expenses.

New Jersey law allows for comparative, or shared, negligence. For example, if a driver is found 50% responsible for a two-car accident, they’ll need to pay half of the total damages to the other party. Whether a possibly negligent driver has injured you, or you’re being accused of negligence yourself, you should contact a New Jersey car accident attorney.   

Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, Can Help

If the unfortunate happens and you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t go it alone. An experienced car accident lawyer can advocate for your best interest and pursue fair compensation for your damages. At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, you can count on us to work tirelessly for your quality of life. With our long track record of success, we’ve helped people just like you move forward after sustaining an injury that was caused by another’s negligence. Contact us now for a free legal review.


Posted by: Brandon J. Bro…
Date: Wed, 08/31/2022 - 19:25

Still have questions?

Speak to an attorney today

Call now and be done