Knowing how and when to report dangerous driving can help make public roads safer for everyone. But there’s a difference between dangerous driving and careless driving.
Here, we help you spot the difference and explain how to report dangerous drivers.
What is dangerous driving?
Dangerous driving is a serious offence because it puts the driver, you and others at serious risk. In legal terms, when someone’s driving standard falls well below that of a competent and careful driver, and it’s obvious the driving is putting people at risk, it’s considered dangerous driving.
Sometimes, dangerous driving is referred to as anti-social driving. However, careless driving is a slightly different offence, although both can create the right conditions for an accident.
The difference between dangerous driving and careless driving
Not paying attention when you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle can have serious consequences. But there are differences between careless driving and dangerous driving.
When someone’s driving falls below the expected standard of a competent driver and fails to consider other people using roads and paths, it falls into the careless driving category.
Careless driving is an offence, and if the police charge you, they’ll call it “driving without due care and attention.” A few examples of this type of thoughtless motoring include:
- Driving through a red light
- Failing to give way when you should
- Hogging the middle lane on the motorway
- Undertaking another vehicle (passing on the left)
- Smoking, eating or drinking while driving
Each of these examples shows the driver isn’t paying attention to the road, other users or observing traffic rules. Things are a little more serious in the case of dangerous driving.
A dangerous driver’s driving standard falls even lower. It’s much more serious and can result in high-risk situations for the driver and anyone nearby. A few examples include:
- Ignoring road signs and traffic lights
- Driving when knowing you are not fit to drive, such as when you’re under the influence of drugs, alcohol or some medications
- Driving when you are injured or unable to see clearly
- Driving while being dangerously distracted, such as using a mobile phone, tuning the radio or making other changes to the stereo, lighting a cigarette or reading a map or GPS
In these situations, the level of the driver’s and other road users’ safety drops well below an acceptable level. So, if you spot someone behaving in the above ways while behind the wheel, it’s best to report it as soon as possible. To make your report, you’ll need a few details.
How to make a dangerous driving report
If you see or have seen someone driving dangerously, you should make a report as soon as you can. There are several ways you can do this.
Report bad driving over the phone
Call 999: The fastest way to notify the police of an offence is to call 999 while the incident is taking place. Obviously, make sure you’re not in control of a vehicle when you make your call. You’ll need to give the operator as many details of the incident as you can remember. That includes the time and place the incident happened, along with the details of the offence.
You’ll also need to provide the vehicle’s registration number, along with its make, model and colour. Any other details, such as a description of the driver or passengers, if there are any, are also helpful.
Report to the non-emergency police line: If you’re reporting dangerous driving after the incident has taken place, you’ll need to call 101. This is a non-emergency number. You’ll need to give all of the same information about the incident.
Report to the DVLA: The DVLA has a toll-free number that can be used to report dangerous driving. You’ll need to provide the same details as if you were making a report to the police. This toll-free number can also be used to report someone who seems to be falling asleep at the wheel or doesn’t appear to see well enough to control a car.
Reporting dangerous driving online
Sometimes, it’s not possible to report dangerous driving straight away. Notifying the police of the incident online is simple and a great option if you’d like to submit a dashcam recording with your eyewitness account. Even with a dashcam recording, you’ll still need to give a written report of the dangerous driving incident.
Not all police forces have website forms for submitting your report online. However, the Metropolitan Police have an online form for traffic offence reports that covers the whole of the UK.
There are several ways to include a dashcam recording of a dangerous driving incident. Some county police forces support a direct upload of dashcam video files with their online forms. In cases where this isn’t possible, the Next Base dashcam safety portal can submit the file for you to your local constabulary.
How do I report someone for dangerous driving in the UK anonymously?
When reporting a dangerous driver, you might be worried about the aftermath. Could the person find out and threaten you?
The good news is, whichever way you report an incident, your details will be treated confidentially. The person you reported won’t be given your name or details. However, you may have to go to court if the driver ends up being prosecuted.
What happens after you report dangerous driving?
Once you’ve lodged a report with the police, they’ll review your statement along with any footage you may have submitted. If you don’t have dashcam footage, you can still report an incident you’ve witnessed.
The dangerous driving – or careless driving – report you’ve lodged will be checked against police records to see if the vehicle or driver has been reported before. Depending on the details of your report and whether or not there is a match, one of the following three things will happen.
- The local Road Policing Unit will be handed your report, and they will decide how to deal with it along with any further actions that need to be taken.
- A letter may be sent to the driver you have reported to warn them that a complaint has been made about their driving.
- The complaint will be recorded on the dangerous driving database.
Not all reports of dangerous driving are acted upon — even when dashcam recordings are included with the complaint.
What happens if you are reported for dangerous driving?
If a complaint about your driving has been made to the police, they are obligated to check this complaint against their records. The complaint will also be recorded in the dangerous driving database. That means if further reports about your driving are made, they will match future searches.
The complaint may be investigated further, and this could result in prosecution. If this is the case, you will need to attend court and could face charges, have up to 11 points added to your licence, or be banned from driving. In severe cases, you may receive a prison term.
The outcome of a report of dangerous driving depends on the severity of the incident and the circumstances surrounding it.
What are the penalties for dangerous driving?
Penalties for dangerous driving range from a letter of warning from the police to a jail sentence.
Dangerous driving doesn’t always carry a prison term, even if the case goes to court or someone has been hurt in the incident.
Four types of penalties can be given to dangerous drivers:
- Penalty points: Anywhere between 3 and 11 penalty points may be given for dangerous driving offences.
- Driving ban: A minimum two-year driving ban may be given for dangerous driving.
- A fine: There is no maximum limit for dangerous driving fines.
- Jail sentence: Up to 14 years in prison for dangerous driving.
Drivers found guilty of dangerous driving may even receive a combination of the penalties noted above.
When should I report a dangerous driver?
If you notice someone is driving dangerously or behaving carelessly while in control of a vehicle, you should report it as soon as it is safe for you to do so. Lodging a report about dangerous incidents on the road helps to keep public roads safe for all.
There is no need to be concerned about your privacy when making a report — all dangerous driving reports are treated confidentially.
There are a few things to keep in mind when collecting the details you’ll need to report a dangerous driver.
- You should never put yourself in danger while trying to record the incident.
- Recording or taking pictures on your phone while driving is a bad idea — you’ll be breaking the road rules and become a dangerous driver yourself.
- All dangerous driving instances you record and report will be followed up on by the police, including your own.
- Don’t try to access the dashcam recording of any dangerous instance until you have parked your car and can do so safely.
If you’ve noticed another motorist putting others at risk by driving carelessly or recklessly, it’s important to note their details and report them.
Whether you make your complaint by phone to the police or DVLA or online with video evidence, it will be taken seriously and go some way towards making public roads safer for all.