What Is the Difference Between Reckless & Negligent Driving?

by Stacy Hensley
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Operating an automobile in an unsafe manner can lead to a conviction for reckless or negligent driving. Violations of negligent or reckless driving can range from cell phone use to driving at dangerously high speeds.

Negligent Driving

Operating an automobile in a way that could endanger other people or property is considered negligent driving. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is also considered negligent.

Reckless Driving

Driving with a willful disregard of the safety of other people or property is considered reckless driving.


Each state has specific laws regarding what is considered negligent or reckless driving. Suspension of the driver's license, fines and imprisonment are possible penalties depending on the state in which the conviction happens, and the severity of the offense.


A reckless driving conviction has more severe penalties than a conviction for negligent driving. Other circumstances surrounding the conviction can play a role in the exact penalty handed down by the court.


Negligent and reckless driving can result in serious injury or death to passengers in the vehicles involved or to pedestrians.


Negligent driving can be prevented by having a designated driver or by eliminating other distractions like using a cell phone while driving. Driving safely requires the driver to pay attention to his surroundings, and use common sense for his protection and the protection of others.

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