Reducing Driving Risks
Consequences of Risky Driving Behavior

The Consequences of Risky Driving Behavior: Know The Outcomes

Updated Dec. 15, 2020

Why is reducing risk as a driver so important? Every risk carries with it a set of possible, undesirable consequences. Every time you take a risk behind the wheel, it becomes more likely that you will experience a crash or collision.

While most collisions do not lead to serious injuries or fatalities, they often do result in significant property damage. And of course, serious injuries and fatalities can and do occur as a result of risky driving behavior every day! Each risky action you take brings your one step closer to the negative consequences of a crash. For drivers who engage in frequent risky behavior, it is only a matter of time before something goes wrong.

Vehicle damage

Most people would be extremely upset at the prospect of something bad happening to their car. Repairing even minor damage to your vehicle is often expensive and may affect your insurance. If your car breaks down altogether, you may have to cope without it – this is every car owner’s worst nightmare!

If your vehicle is damaged as the result of a risky maneuver, you may be lucky and get away with a few dents to the bodywork, or you may have to pay out for replacement parts to get it back on the road. Even minor damage can wrack up a sizable bill as your car must always be checked out by a mechanic following a collision or crash. Often, the damage may appear to be superficial but essential systems or components have been affected.

You would be surprised just how much vehicle repairs can set you back. According to a 2013 survey conducted by the Insurance Research Council, the average insurance claim for a vehicle in the United States was $3,000. Replacing a major component in a vehicle frequently costs $10,000 or more. If you are very fortunate, your insurance provider will cover the full cost of the repairs; though often, car owners are required to pay an “excess” fee to make an insurance claim. You will still be financially affected if your insurance company pays the full repair cost, as your rates will go up as a result of your crash. Damaging your vehicle in a collision can have a long-lasting, negative impact on your life.

Frighteningly, vehicle damage is a best-case scenario if you are involved in an accident, crash or collision. At the moment before an imminent crash, vehicle damage is the outcome you are hoping for.

Injury and death

If luck is on your side, risky driving behavior may only result in damage to your vehicle. Sadly, many road users are killed or injured around the United States every day, because of a bad decision they – or another driver – has made. Drivers who sustain injuries during car crashes are fortunate to still be alive, though they may still have to live with profound or long-lasting negative consequences.

If you are injured in a car accident or collision, you may face:

  • Physical pain, suffering and discomfort
  • Permanent or long-lasting disfigurement
  • Temporary or permanent disabilities
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or depression
  • Missing school or work
  • Missing out on social functions and important events
  • An expensive medical bill
  • Long-term health complications
  • Higher insurance rates

Of course, if you are killed in the incident you will not have to deal with any of these consequences. Though, the lives of your family, friends and loved ones will be ruined. They may have to deal with sizable funeral costs, legal expenses and the loss of your income, all while battling with crushing grief.

Even if you manage to walk away from a collision without any serious injuries, there may be other parties involved who are not so fortunate. This will almost certainly be the case if you collide with a more vulnerable road user, such as a pedestrian, motorcyclist or cyclist.

Arguably, it is your choice whether you want to endanger your own life. However, it is unlikely that you are the only one who will suffer if things go wrong. An innocent person could die as a result of your irresponsible choices, simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Often, the people who die as a result of risky driving behavior are the friends or family of the driver. NHTSA statistics show that two out of every three teenage vehicle-related deaths occur when the victim is being driven by a friend. If you live to tell the tale but your passenger does not, you will carry the burden of what you have done for the rest of your life. You may even have to witness the pain you have caused to the victim’s family.

If you are ever involved in a car crash, providing basic medical aid to any person who is injured could mean the difference between life and death. If possible, contact 9-1-1 and ask for an ambulance and the police department. Your priority should be to get medical support to the scene as soon as possible.

License suspension or revocation

Risky driving behavior does not have to result in a crash or collision to have serious negative consequences. If a law enforcement officer witnesses you driving too fast, failing to yield or engaging in some other dangerous activity, you will be cited and issued with a punishment. Do not be mad if you are pulled over and cited under such circumstances. The consequences of your risky behavior could have been so much worse; getting a ticket is getting off lightly.

Extremely serious traffic violations can result in automatic suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. If you are caught speeding excessively, driving recklessly, driving under the influence, failing to stop at a railroad crossing or refusing to stop for an officer of the law, the chances are that you can kiss your driving days goodbye.

The punishments for traffic violations vary according to state law. Find out what offenses will result in license suspension or revocation in your state by checking your driver’s handbook.

Large fines and prison sentences

Losing your driver’s license may be the least of your worries if you are cited for excessive speeding or reckless driving. You can also expect a fine, the size of which will be determined by the severity of the offense and the laws in your state. If your violation amounted to extremely dangerous or destructive behavior, you may even be sentenced to a term of imprisonment.

Increased insurance rates

Your insurance rates will go up if your risky behavior is found to be the cause of a crash or collision. Drivers who are “at-fault” can expect the increase in their rates to last for several years. That would amount to a serious sum of money down the drain, all for one moment of stupidity behind the wheel.

Certain offenses immediately invalidate your insurance and could lead your insurance provider to totally cancel your policy. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will usually do it. Without insurance, you will not be able to drive until a new policy is established. This could take some time, as no insurance company will want to get involved with someone who has proven themselves to be a reckless driver.

Long-term repercussions

In the single moment spent deciding to make a risky maneuver or dangerous action, you could have sentenced yourself to years of far-reaching negative consequences. Each one of the negative outcomes discussed in this module would adversely affect your life in a myriad of ways. Of course, you would be lucky to endure just one negative outcome as a result of your actions. If a serious collision occurs due to your risky behavior, you could be faced with a serious injury, license revocation and a large fine!

Losing your license would seriously dent your quality of life all on its own. You may have difficulties getting to school, which would have a negative effect on your grades, your college choices and your future career. Without a driver’s license, your social life may suffer. You will not be able to get around as easily and if you cannot get to work, you won’t have the necessary money to do many of the activities you enjoy. You could become lonely, and depressed.

Your one, irresponsible choice could quite literally doom you to a lifetime of misery if you are injured in a collision. Suffering a physical or mental disability as a result of a car crash could leave you unable to play sports, go to school, walk or even think clearly. Even with minor injuries it is possible that you may never fully recover and will be left with life-long pain, discomfort or inconvenience.

Now, consider the financial cost of your actions. Providing you manage to avoid any medical bill-inducing injuries, you will still have to contend with:

  • Replacing or repairing your car
  • Replacing or repairing any other vehicles you damaged
  • Fines and court costs
  • A rise in your insurance rates

These costs can be considerable and will be even harder to manage if you have lost your license or car and cannot get to work. Plus, if you injure another person you will probably be liable for their medical bills. If they are permanently disabled as a result of your actions, you could be financially crippled for life.

It is never worth the risk

New drivers must understand that the consequences of risky driving behavior can be profound and life-changing. Whatever you think you stand to gain by breaking the rules is categorically not worth the risk. Drive safely, always.

Next time you are tempted to take an unnecessary driving risk to impress your friends or get somewhere a little sooner, as yourself this question:

Is it worth throwing my life away?

In the fraction of a second, it takes to follow through with an irresponsible risk, you could be doing just that.

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