What Actions Are Considered Reckless Driving?

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The CDC reports that reckless driving is one of the top 10 causes of car accidents among teenagers.  However, it isn’t only teenaged drivers who have to be concerned.  Reckless driving accounts for roughly one third of all car accident fatalities in the United States, and unfortunately, Oklahoma is no exception.

Breaking the Speed Limit in Oklahoma

47 O.S. § 11-901 provides two definitions of reckless driving:

  • Operating a motor vehicle “in a careless or wanton manner without regard for the safety of persons or property.”
  • Violating the provisions of 47 O.S. § 11-801.

We’ll discuss the first definition in the next section of this article; but for now, let’s take a closer look at the regulations set forth by 47 O.S. § 11-801.  (After all, you can’t know whether its provisions were violated until you know what those provisions are.)

47 O.S. § 11-801(A) states that “Any person driving a vehicle on a highway shall drive… at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface and width of the highway and any other conditions then existing.”  Stated more simply, speeding is not allowed, and drivers should take road, weather, and traffic conditions into account.

As provided by Section B of the statute, Oklahoma speed limits are:

  • 75 MPH on turnpikes and rural stretches of interstate highways, such as I-35, I-40, and I-44.
  • 70 MPH on four-lane divided highways (including interstates), and “super two-lane highways” (i.e. highways with passing lanes and paved shoulders).
    • School buses are restricted to speeds of 55 MPH on two-lane highways, but can travel up to 65 MPH on turnpikes, interstates, and multi-lane divided highways.
  • 35 MPH on highways which pass through wildlife refuges or state parks, such as Lake Thunderbird State Park or Roman Nose State Park.
    • Speed limits up to 55 MPH are allowed when the road is a “state or federal designated highway.”
  • 25 MPH in a designated school zone on any highway outside of a town or city.
    • The school zone speed limit is also 25 MPH on land outside of or next to a town or city, if the land is owned by the state of Oklahoma.
  • 65 MPH in “other locations.”

If a driver violates any of these regulations by speeding, or by driving too fast for safety based on poor weather, road, or traffic conditions, then he or she has committed reckless driving under the second definition supplied by O.S. 47 § 11-901.

But what about the first definition?  Yes, the statute provides that “careless or wanton” driving is reckless – but what does that actually mean?

Common Examples of Reckless Driving Behaviors

Oklahoma’s reckless driving statutes, which are consolidated under Article 9 of Title 47 (Motor Vehicles), unfortunately do not provide a neat and convenient list of examples – merely the broad definition we already noted.  O.S. 47 § 11-901b requires that each driver on Oklahoma’s roads “shall devote their full time and attention to such driving,” but that’s a fairly obvious statement which doesn’t provide much additional clarity.

While Oklahoma’s statutes are largely devoid of explicit examples, there are many dangerous and aggressive driving behaviors which can generally be classified as reckless driving, depending on the specific factors present in a given case.  In addition to speeding, some other common examples might include:

  • Tailgating (following too closely).
  • Flashing high beams when unnecessary.
  • Drunk driving (DUI) or driving while intoxicated by drugs.
  • Running red lights and/or stop signs.
  • Not using turn signals.
  • Excessive weaving in and out of lanes.
  • Passing in a no-passing zone.
  • Racing with other vehicles.

Reckless driving in Oklahoma can result in the imposition of a fine and/or imprisonment, as follows:

  • First Offense
    • Fine – Up to $500
    • Sentence – Up to 90 days in jail
  • Subsequent Offenses
    • Fine – Up to $1,000
    • Sentence – Up to six months in jail

If you were in an accident caused by a reckless driver, you may be able to get compensated for your medical bills, damage to your vehicle, and other financial losses caused by the crash.  However, it’s important to act quickly, because a deadline called the statute of limitations restricts how long you have to file a claim after being hurt in a collision or hit and run accident.

Even if you aren’t sure whether the driver who hit you was violating traffic laws, the attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook encourage you to call us at (405) 605-2426 to set up a free and confidential assessment of your case.  Our legal team has over 75 years of combined experience representing injury victims and their loved ones, and has achieved favorable outcomes for numerous clients.  We handle all types of automotive accidents, including motorcycle crashes and truck crashes in Oklahoma City.

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