What's the difference between careless driving and dangerous driving?

Drivers can be convicted of a range of motoring offences. The most common motoring offence in the UK by far is speeding; research shows that it accounted for 84% of convictions in 2018/19, totalling around 2.84 million.

That’s not to say that other convictions aren’t common. Some offences peak at certain times of the year – for instance, the Express revealed that drink driving convictions have been higher on New Year’s Day than on any other day of the year for six years running, with motorists getting caught out due to heavy drinking the previous night.

From using your phone at the wheel to running a red light and driving without insurance, any type of motoring conviction can lead to you getting points on your licence along with a potential fine.

The consequences will obviously depend on how severe your individual case is – in more serious scenarios you could be banned from driving for a number of years or spend time behind bars.

If you’ve previously been convicted of an offence – motoring or otherwise – there’s a good chance you will have found it difficult to take out affordable car insurance. You might have even tried to get a few quotes but certain insurers have refused to cover you altogether. That’s where the Insurance Factory comes in.

We’re committed to helping drivers get back on the road. We’ll endeavour to find you convicted driver insurance packed with the benefits of a standard policy, for a price that won’t break the bank. We understand that the past is the past, and it’s our aim to get you back driving with as little hassle as possible.
A car driving fast at night

Careless and dangerous driving – what’s the difference?

Sometimes there can be confusion when it comes to certain motoring convictions. Careless driving and dangerous driving are two of these – what’s the difference between the two? Is one more serious than the other?

In short, you’ll be in more trouble if you’re caught driving dangerously than if you’re convicted of careless driving.

As the Crown Prosecution Service explains, careless driving is when a person’s driving ‘falls below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver’. Meanwhile, dangerous driving is when a person’s driving falls far below the expected standard of a competent and careful motorist.

To better distinguish between the two, here are some examples of careless driving and dangerous driving:

Careless/inconsiderate driving

  • Overtaking on the inside

  • Driving too close to another car
  • Running a red light by mistake
  • Turning into the path of another car or motorbike
  • Driver distraction – tweaking the radio or lighting a cigarette.
  • Flashing lights to force other cars to give way
  • Incorrectly using lanes in order to gain advantage over other motorists
  • Remaining in an overtaking lane when it’s not necessary
  • Slow driving or braking when it’s not necessary
  • Dazzling drivers with full beam lights

Dangerous driving

  • Driving aggressively, going too fast or racing
  • Not adhering to traffic lights, warnings or signs
  • Dangerous overtaking
  • Driving under the influence of drink or drugs (including prescribed medication)
  • Driving when unfit, for instance when extremely tired or when you have an injury impacting your ability to drive safely
  • Knowing the car has a fault but driving it anyway
  • The driver being avoidably and dangerously distracted for instance by using a handheld device, looking at a map or lighting a cigarette
A woman driving and using her phone at the same time

Consequences of motoring offences

As the Gov.UK website explains, every single type of motoring offence carries a different code and is given points on a scale from one to 11. So, this means that different types of careless or dangerous driving will have different repercussions.

In terms of careless driving, for instance, offences such as driving without due care and attention (code CD10) and driving without reasonable consideration for other road users (CD20) carry between three and nine points, which will remain on your driving record for four years from the date of the offence.

Then more severe cases – such as causing death by careless driving then failing to supply a specimen for alcohol analysis (CD70) – will lead to three to 11 penalty points, which will remain on your licence for 11 years from the conviction date.

Aside from points, any motoring conviction could result in a fine, a driving ban or time in prison for the most serious cases (for instance death by dangerous driving). The Sentencing Council explains that the maximum prison sentence courts can issue are as follows:
  • 14 years for causing death by dangerous driving or careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs.
  • Five years for causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving.
  • Two years for causing death whilst unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured.

You can have your driving licence revoked and be issued with a driving ban if you build up 12 or more penalty points on your licence within a three-year period.

Things are a little different if you’re a new driver – you’ll have your licence taken away if you build up just six points within two years of passing your test.

This will mean that you’ll need to take both parts of the test again to get your full licence back. You’ll need to pay the same amount of money as people taking the tests for the first time.
A judges hammer and scales

Convicted driver insurance from the Insurance Factory

If you’re looking to get back on the road after a motoring conviction, let the Insurance Factory help you do just that.

We aim to find policies for drivers who have committed a range of offences in the past, including:
  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving/attempting to drive while over the limit
  • Speeding on a motorway
  • Driving in a dangerous manner
  • Driving at a dangerous speed
  • Reckless driving
  • Non-motoring convictions

We’ve got more than 20 years of experience and have access to a specialist panel of insurers. So let us try to find the right convicted driver insurance policy for you, for a price that’s right.

Get a free, no-obligation quote today.