The Hazards of Reckless Driving

Every year, more than 1.25 million people die in accidents on the road. Millions more suffer serious, often life-altering injuries. Many of these injuries and deaths occur due to reckless driving accidents. Unfortunately, all too many people continue to engage in reckless driving behaviors despite knowing they significantly increase their risk of causing a serious accident. If you or a loved one has already experienced a traumatic accident with a reckless driver contact a skilled auto accident attorney to discuss your legal options.

What Is Reckless Driving?

Reckless Driving Accident AttorneyReckless driving fails to take the rules of the road or basic safety precautions into account. Generally, police officers classify reckless driving as a more serious offense than careless driving: reckless driving deliberately ignores safety protocols, while careless driving generally involves a general lack of attention to the road. Washington law notes, “Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.” Reckless driving may include:

  • Traveling at excessive speeds. Most states automatically issue a reckless driving ticket to drivers who travel at speeds well over the posted speed limit. Generally, state law enforcement officers issue these tickets when a driver is traveling more than 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. At least when it comes to Washington Law.
  • Ignoring traffic laws. Drivers who swerve in and out of lanes may find themselves convicted of reckless driving, as may those who deliberately ignore posted traffic signals or signs.
  • Racing. Drivers may choose to deliberately race their vehicles down roads used by other people, posing substantial danger both to themselves and to anyone else who uses the road. Racing becomes particularly dangerous when drivers take up both lanes of a two-lane road or attempt to cross into the other lane of traffic to gain an advantage.
  • Passing on a blind curve. Most roads clearly indicate where passing can occur safely with a broken yellow line. On roads with a solid yellow line, drivers should avoid passing one another, even if the front vehicle is traveling excessively slowly. Passing on a blind curve can make it impossible to see oncoming traffic, substantially increasing the risk of an accident.
  • Ignoring or going around railroad barriers. Railroad barriers exist to prevent cars from moving onto the train tracks as a train passes by. Ignoring these barriers can result in getting hit by a train—and drivers who ignore them without getting hit may quickly face reckless driving charges.
  • Passing a school bus with its stop sign extended and lights flashing. Any time a school bus extends its stop sign and flashes its lights, it is indicating that children can board or exit the bus. Ignoring this signal can put children in significant danger. Even passing a school bus at a slow rate of speed can leave drivers facing reckless driving charges.
  • Trying to avoid or outrun a police officer. Some drivers will go to extraordinary lengths to get away from law enforcement officers. Unfortunately, speeding, swerving, or engaging in other illegal actions to avoid an officer can count as reckless driving.
  • Drunk driving. Many people under the influence of drugs and alcohol are more likely to engage in reckless driving behaviors. In some cases, the act of operating a vehicle while under the influence by itself can result in reckless driving charges.

Potential Consequences of Reckless Driving

Reckless driving carries with it a substantially increased accident risk. Traveling at excessive speeds requires a much faster response time and can lead to significantly greater injuries if you do have an accident. Not only that, reckless driving can carry other severe penalties.

  • Tickets and fines. If a police officer catches you engaging in reckless driving behavior, especially if your reckless behavior results in an accident, you may receive a ticket and associated fines.
  • Loss of your license. Engaging in exceptionally reckless behavior or engaging in reckless driving behavior on multiple occasions can result in license suspension. In some cases, you may have your license permanently revoked for ongoing reckless driving.
  • Increased insurance premiums. When you engage in reckless driving, you raise your accident risk, and your insurance company does not want to bear the burden. As a result, your insurance premiums may go up, sometimes significantly, when you get caught driving recklessly.
  • Difficulty acquiring some positions. If a job requires you to regularly operate a motor vehicle, you may have trouble getting that job after a reckless driving conviction. You may also struggle to gain employment in some government offices or other facilities that require a high level of trust and ethical behavior.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. If you choose to drink and drive, leading to reckless driving behaviors, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. This may come with reduced driving privileges, including a restricted license that only allows you to operate your vehicle at specific times or to get to school or work.
  • Jail time. In some cases, your reckless driving behavior may result in time in jail. You may have an increased likelihood of spending time behind bars if your recklessness led to an accident that caused serious injuries or death.

Avoiding Reckless Driving

As a driver, you bear responsibility to everyone else on the roads to help keep the roads as safe as possible. Each time you get behind the wheel, you help determine the safety of every driver or passenger around you. Are you struggling to avoid reckless driving behaviors? Try some of these strategies.

  • Refresh yourself on the rules of the road. Improve your familiarity with the Washington Driver Guide. Make sure you understand when you can appropriately pass, the average speed limits on highways and in rural areas, and any other information that could impact your ability to safely navigate Washington roadways.
  • Slow down. Make note of the speed limit every time you drive, and make a habit of remaining at or below that speed, especially in dangerous weather conditions. If you have a habit of speeding, you may need to retrain yourself to adhere to the speed limit.
  • Leave plenty of time to arrive at your destination. Often, reckless driving behavior arises out of a sense of being rushed. When you must hurry to reach your destination, you may struggle to drive safely. Leaving plenty of time, on the other hand, can make it easier to avoid reckless driving behaviors.
  • Pay attention to the road around you. Avoid multitasking or distracted driving, and make a habit of looking at everything going on around you. Observe traffic patterns and other drivers around you. Often, especially in unfamiliar areas, this can prevent you from accidentally engaging in reckless driving behavior.

How to React to a Reckless Driver

While you may control your own driving behaviors, you cannot control how someone else behaves behind the wheel. You can, however, decrease the impact reckless drivers may have on you and your passengers. Try these strategies to help keep you safe from reckless drivers.

If You Get in a Car with a Reckless Driver

Most people do not deliberately get in the car with a driver known for reckless behaviors. If you do know someone has a reputation for driving recklessly, try to avoid riding with them—and after one reckless ride, try to avoid going with them again in the future. When you find yourself stuck in the car with a reckless driver, try these strategies.

  • Call attention to the behavior. If you notice the driver of your vehicle driving at excessive speeds, swerving through traffic, or operating a cell phone while driving, call attention to it and ask them to stop. Many drivers may fail to take note of their own reckless driving behaviors, especially when distracted or ill, while others will show willingness to curtail reckless behaviors when asked by their passengers.
  • Stop the ride. If your Uber or Lyft driver is behaving recklessly, cancel the ride and note the reason for that cancellation in the app. Be sure to leave a review so that future riders know to avoid that particular driver. When in the car with a friend or loved one, let them know that you want to get out. Try not to “wait it out” or “hope for the best” to avoid rocking the boat. Reckless driving often has serious consequences, and you don’t want those serious consequences to be injuries to you or others in the vehicle.
  • Call for help, if needed. If you find yourself stuck in the car with a reckless driver who will not pull the car over or allow you out of the vehicle, summon help. Call 911 and wait for the driver to get pulled over. You do not have to make yourself unsafe for a ride.

If You Spot a Reckless Driver on the Road

Seeing a reckless driver on the road makes many people tense up, prepared for the driver to do anything. While you cannot stop another driver’s behavior on your own, you can take steps to keep yourself and your passengers safe.

  • Do not engage the other driver. Resist the urge to, for example, block in a reckless driver so that they cannot pass you. Do not make hand signals or other gestures that could incite anger in the other driver. Road rage can cause even more dangerous driving behaviors or cause the driver to react badly to you and your passengers, including choosing to follow you until you stop to attack you. Instead, continue driving as normally as possible while near the reckless driver.
  • Get out of the way, if you can. Pull off to the side of the road, if needed, and wait for a reckless driver to pass. Getting out of the way will decrease the odds that a reckless driver will injure you or your passengers. If you notice a reckless driver growing enraged with you, move your vehicle to a safe location. Try not to exit the car until you know that the other driver has moved on to another location or until help has arrived.
  • Call 911. If you notice ongoing reckless driving behavior and worry about the safety of others on the road, pull into a safe location and call 911 or have one of your passengers call 911. Report the make and model of the car, the license plate number, and your current location. Police officers will take steps to stop the reckless driver.

How Does Reckless Driving Cause Accidents?

Reckless driving can increase the risk of an accident and cause more serious injuries during an accident. As a driver, it can lead to more serious penalties after an accident, including higher fines or loss of your license. If you suffer injuries at the hands of a reckless driver, however, the other driver’s behavior may have a significant impact on your case. Consider:

  • Reckless driving helps determine fault in the accident. If you know the other driver engaged in reckless driving behavior, it may increase the responsibility that driver bears for the accident. However, if you contributed to the accident through reckless behavior of your own, including speeding or ignoring traffic signs, you may still share liability for the accident, which can reduce the compensation you receive.
  • Boohoff Law P.A.Reckless driving on the part of the other driver does not change the compensation you receive. The insurance company will typically base the compensation you receive for an accident off of the extent of your injuries, any damage to your vehicle and personal possessions, and the coverage offered by the driver’s insurance policy. The driver’s behavior at the time of the accident does not change the compensation you have the right to seek, nor will it change the way the insurance company interacts with you.

Speak with an Auto Accident Attorney

If you suffered injuries in a serious accident due to another driver’s reckless behavior, you may need a car accident attorney. Contact a car crash lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. The sooner you contact Boohoff Law, the sooner they can start working on your behalf, from collecting evidence to negotiating for the compensation you deserve for your injuries.


Call (877) 999-9999 or email Boohoff Law today – available 24/7

Common Trucks on the Road and the Injuries They Can Cause

Trucks are everywhere you go. Every day, truck drivers pick up, transport, and deliver the goods and materials Washington residents need to live their lives. Trucks haul disabled cars and pick up garbage. Workers rely on trucks to perform critical jobs and transport tools, materials, and equipment. Trucks are necessary, but sometimes they present unavoidable hazards. When truck drivers cause traffic accidents, they leave behind serious property damage, injuries, and fatalities. The 2018 statistics from the Washington State Crash Data Portal documents 552 potential truck-accident related injuries and 11 fatalities in King County alone.

A truck’s durability, bulk, and engine size make them useful and powerful. They need these features to meet daily work challenges but they also increase the damages and injuries when a truck is involved in an accident. Small cars have stronger reinforcement structures, seat belts, child safety seats, and airbags. These provide limited protection when a truck driver loses control. As car manufacturers shrink and redesign some car models to generate better gas mileage, there’s little a vehicle owner can do to withstand a damaging truck collision.

Commercial Drivers Are Highly Trained to Meet CDL License Requirements

Every commercial truck operator undergoes rigorous training. Washington State provides a Commercial Driver Guide with the rules and standards each commercial driver must follow. State and local CDL guidelines mirror and enhance Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Training standards. Depending on the type of truck a driver chooses to operate, he or she must train and test to comply with specific Commercial Driver’s License categories and driving privileges.

  • Class A: May operate “…any combination of vehicles…” with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more, including a towed unit weighing up to 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B: Any single vehicle with a 26,001-pound GVWR or any vehicle towing a vehicle with a GVWR under 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C: A single or combination of vehicles (not described in Class A or B) used to transport 16 or more passengers or hazardous materials.

Commercial Learner’s Permit operators have additional driving restrictions while they learn to navigate the highways. CDL holders must test and/or demonstrate specific skills to qualify for the following endorsements: T, Double or triple trailer; P, Passenger; N, Tanker; H, Hazardous materials; X, Tank and hazardous endorsement, and S, School Bus.

Common Trucks on the Road

It’s easy to stereotype heavy trucks as long haul “big rigs” with a burly guy behind the wheel. There are plenty of those big rigs are out there, some with male drivers others with savvy lady operators in charge. The driving demographic has changed but the job remains the same. Large trucks deliver the goods and materials consumers and manufacturers need. Trucks transport over 64 percent of the nation’s freight but tractor-trailers are just one of the types of trucks you’ll see on Washington’s roadways.

The Federal Highway Administration assigns categories for non-private passenger vehicles based on weight and class. The agency further classifies them based on light-duty, medium-duty, and heavy. These guidelines describe the common types of trucks you’ll likely encounter each day.

Large Trucks

The U.S. Department of Transportation defines a large truck as a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating over 10,000 pounds. When they’re pulling a loaded trailer they often far exceed that total. Tractors are big enough to pull densely-packed single and sometimes double or triple trailers. Powerful engines give them the energy they need to haul large loads. When a crash occurs, a truck’s size and power contribute to heavy damage and catastrophic injuries. The USDOT found several distinctive concerns about large trucks on the road.

  • Nationally, large trucks involved in fatal accidents had a GVWR in excess of 26,000 pounds.
  • While large trucks comprise only 4 percent of vehicles registered nationally, they’re involved in over 9 percent of fatal accidents.
  • 72 percent of those fatally injured in truck accidents were in the other vehicle.

The FMCSA’s Large Truck Causation Study found that one of three critical operator events often preceded large truck-involved accidents.

  • Running into another lane or off the road, 32 percent
  • Loss of control due to speed, cargo shift, vehicle failure, road conditions, and other issues, 29 percent
  • Rear-ending another vehicle, 22 percent

All Large Trucks Are Not the Same

A trucking company changes a truck’s configuration depending on the shipper’s requirements. Sometimes a trucker bobtails, driving only the tractor to pick up a shipper’s load or pre-packed trailer. At other times, a trucker travels deadhead after delivering a load or dropping off a full trailer. Until a truck delivers its cargo, it has a physical and legal connection to the shipper or freight owner. The trucker, shipper, or freight owner reconfigures the truck with the trailer or equipment that meets its current requirements.

Cattle carriers: A cattle carrier is essentially a trailer-sized cage that’s permanently mounted on a chassis. When a trucker connects it to his tractor for delivery, accidents sometimes occur along the way. An accident on February 6, 2019. on Highway 12, near Pasco, WA is just one example. A trucker hauling cattle swerved to avoid a stalled vehicle on the snow-slicked pavement. The truck and carrier went over an embankment, narrowly escaping a first-hand encounter with the Snake River. Some truckers carry cattle in stake body trucks. It’s basically a flatbed with a fence-like perimeter enclosure. They also use stake body trailers and trucks to haul goods and materials.

Flatbeds: Shippers use flatbed trucks and trailers to transport logs, vehicles, construction materials, construction equipment, and other heavy goods. They also use Lowboy, extendable, gooseneck, and other flatbed trailers for specialty cargo. When a flatbed load shifts or the driver loses control, improper load securement is often a factor.

U.S. Transportation codes §393.100 through §393.136 contain guidelines for proper load securement which helps minimize the risk of flatbed accidents. Like other tractor-trailer incidents, Washington has its share of flatbed crashes.

  • On April 16, 2019, a flatbed truck rear-ended a tractor-trailer on I-82 near Kennewick. An emergency crew had to free the flatbed driver from his cab.
  • In an accident on July 4, 2019, a flatbed driver lost control on I-90 near Medical Lake. The truck overturned and burned. The driver was uninjured and no other vehicles were involved.
  • In a June 18, 2019 accident, a flatbed hauling a backhoe flipped over and injured a 71-year old man using a walker.

Tankers: Tankers can be self-contained or designed as trailers to function with a tractor. Manufacturers design tankers to carry fuel, gas, chemicals, or hazardous substances, and sometimes dry goods. Food grade tanks carry milk, water, and other liquids. Tanker accidents occur occasionally, such as the one in which a tanker carrying oil overturned on I-5 in Centralia.

Dump Trucks

With ongoing construction projects transforming Seattle, it’s normal to see an occasional dump truck passing through the city. Dump trucks, cement mixers, refrigerated trucks, and other service equipment are Class 8 vehicles. They often weigh in at 33,001 pounds or more. When they’re in an accident, their weight contributes to serious damage and injuries.

  • On May 23, 2019, a pickup driver sustained fatal injuries after an accident with a dump truck near Brinnon. The dump truck overturned spilling a non-hazardous load.
  • On June 4, 2019, a motorcyclist died when a dump truck crossed into his lane on I-395 near Kettle Falls.
  • On July 22, 2019, a dump truck fatally injured a pedestrian in a Bellingham construction zone.

Garbage and Recycling Trucks

Garbage trucks travel throughout commercial and residential neighborhoods providing essential solid waste removal services. On service routes, they move slowly and make frequent stops, usually seeming heavy and oversized yet harmless. As Class 7 vehicles, garbage trucks fall within a 26,000 to 33,000-pound range GVWR. Recent accidents demonstrate how a garbage truck’s combined engine power, speed potential, and weight often causes serious damages and injuries.

  • A garbage truck struck and killed a pedestrian on June 30, 2019, on SR 166 in Port Orchard.
  • On January 23, 2019, a woman sustained fatal injuries when she crashed into a garbage truck on SR 12 in Morton.
  • A 51-year-old bicyclist died from injuries sustained in a collision on July 4, 2018, in Auburn.

Delivery and Service Trucks

Delivery trucks, step vans, and walk-in vans are light and medium-duty trucks weighing between 10,000 and 19,500 pounds. Accidents are not often as serious as crashes involving larger trucks, but they still cause significant damage and injuries. Delivery truck drivers often display risky driving behaviors in their effort to meet delivery commitments and deadlines.

  • On June 12, 2019, a FedEx semi delivery truck rolled over on I-5 near Olympia. Fortunately, the truck didn’t injure anyone but it scattered packages across the highway and caused a major traffic jam.
  • A FedEx driver sustained serious injuries on June 22, 2019, in Benton County. He was thrown from his vehicle as it left the roadway and came to a stop after rolling.
  • On January 9, 2019, a UPS truck collided with a disabled woman on a scooter causing fatal injuries. The accident occurred on a sidewalk in front of an Auburn business.

Rental Trucks

When you see a person loading up a rental truck, you probably don’t think about their driver’s license or training. You never consider any of the qualifications to which local and federal standards hold all commercial truck drivers. When anyone requires a rental truck, they need only meet age and basic licensing requirements. Then they put down a credit card deposit and drive away in a heavy truck. No Commercial Driver’s License required!

Rental agencies like UHaul lease a range of trucks. While some are as small as a delivery van, a licensed driver can lease a 10-foot truck with a 5,790 empty weight or a 26-foot, 12,990-pound truck with a gross vehicle weight capacity up to 25,999 pounds. When you consider the idea of putting a driver with no trucking experience behind the wheel of a heavy truck, it’s easy to recognize the potential for danger.

Lack of safety precautions is another rental truck issue. A 2017 report to Congress, Rental Truck “Safety Recall Remedy Report,” found that only four out of six rental vehicle companies had a plan for removing recalled vehicles from their rental fleets. They typically rented or sold recalled vehicles without notifying the consumer.

Pickup Trucks

Pickup trucks are the private passenger vehicle of choice for many Americans. They’re so common, it’s easy to forget that they also perform a dual role as work trucks. Depending on a pick-ups size, weight, and function, it’s subject to an official US Transportation Code designation as a non-passenger automobile, §523.5; a heavy-duty vehicle, §523.6; or a heavy-duty work truck, §523.7. Regardless of its use, a pick-up falls within the heavy-duty category once its gross vehicle weight rating reaches 8,501 pounds to 14,000 pounds and over.

Pick up trucks are multi-use vehicles found in many driving situations right alongside smaller private passenger vehicles. Because many pick-ups are bigger and heavier than an average small car, they cause significant damage when they’re involved in a crash. Here are a few examples.

  • On July 22, 2019, a speeding pickup truck caused a six-car pileup in Everett, Washington. Eight people were seriously injured and hospitalized for treatment.
  • On June 13, 2019, a pick-up driver lost control while hauling a boat. He struck a Bellevue bus shelter, trapping a woman in the rubble. The woman sustained injuries to her face, legs, and hands.
  • A motorcyclist sustained fatal injuries after a pick-up truck struck his motorcycle on Northeast 35th St. in Seattle. The accident occurred on June 16, 2019.

Trucks Are Everywhere

Wherever you go, you encounter tow trucks, furniture delivery trucks, refrigerated trucks, landscaping trucks, and many other truck types. It’s impossible to avoid them and the hazards they create. Truck crash scenarios are often complex with serious injuries. Each truck accident comes with a unique set of legal and liability issues. The responsible parties often include not only a truck driver but also an employer, truck or trailer owner, shipper, and loader.

If you or a family member have been injured in a truck accident, consult a Seattle truck accident lawyer; an attorney can help you better understand the necessary steps for preserving your legal rights and protecting your future.