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Winter Driving

Published on 1 January 2020 | Modified on 14 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett

What exactly is Careless driving (also referred to as driving without due care and attention)? In legal terms you are guilty of Careless Driving if the manner of your driving of a mechanically propelled vehicle falls below the standard expected of a careful and competent driver. Examples of this are as follows;

(a) Momentary lapse of concentration or misjudgement at low speed.
(b) Loss of control due to speed, mishandling of insufficient attention to road conditions, or carelessly turning right across on-coming traffic.
(c) Overtaking manoeuvre at speed resulting in a collision of vehicles, or driving bordering on the dangerous.

Primarily, the test to be applied is an objective one; has the prosecution proved that the defendant departed from the standard of care and skill that in the particular circumstances of the case would have been exercised by a reasonable, prudent, competent and experienced driver?

Secondly, the decision by the Court may be a subjective one on the particular facts and what may amount to careless driving in one situation may not warrant a conviction in another.

A person is guilty whether or not the circumstances which gave rise to the charge were deliberate or an error of judgement (Taylor v Rogers) (1960). Knowledge of his carelessness is not an essential element of the offence. Effectively what this case states is that you can be found guilty of this offence even if you didn’t know your driving amounted to carelessness.

If you are observed driving in a careless manner or in a manner that causes inconvenience for other road users then it is likely that you will be given a fixed penalty notice or potentially summonsed to Court.

It is usually more serious instances of careless driving that result in Court attendances rather than fixed penalties and many motorists simply accept the fixed penalty which could involve driver education or points and a financial penalty. If you wish to dispute the incident however then the matter will end up before a Court.

Carfelss driving offences often arise are often charged in Winter. This unsurprising when you factor in the shorter days, poor weather, which can include fog or ice or both and driving snow and black ice all come into play.  Driving at the speed limit on a clear dry road is fine, doing the same speed in bad weather maybe considered Careless or Inconsiderate Driving.

If you find yourself summoned for this offence then call Poole Alcock LLP where one of our expert lawyers can lead you through the options available to you in Court, whether you wish to challenge the prosecution case, or accept the charges. Call our Freephone number 01270 625478 and arrange an initial consultation at one of our offices and discuss your options.  Alternatively use the Contact Us form on our website and we’ll call you back.

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