Careless driving
Produced in partnership with 18 Red Lion Court
Careless driving

The following Corporate Crime guidance note Produced in partnership with 18 Red Lion Court provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Careless driving
  • Careless or inconsiderate driving
  • Elements of the offence of careless driving
  • Drive
  • Mechanically propelled vehicle
  • Road or other public place
  • Without due care and attention or inconsiderate driving
  • Examples of driving likely to be considered careless
  • Defences to careless driving
  • Careless driving as an alternative verdict
  • more

Careless or inconsiderate driving

If a person drives a car carelessly on a road or public place, or without consideration for other users of the road or place they may be guilty of careless and inconsiderate driving under the Road Traffic Act 1988, s 3 (RTA 1988).

Careless driving under RTA 1988, s 3 can be tried summarily only.

Elements of the offence of careless driving

To be guilty of an offence a person must:

  1. drive

  2. a mechanically propelled vehicle

  3. on a road or other public place

  4. without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration, for other persons using the road or public place


The term driving is not defined in RTA 1988 but the courts have held that the act of driving is a physical one which can only be performed by a person.

The Divisional Court has held that the term does not apply to a limited company (Richmond London Borough Council v Pinn and Wheeler [1989] RTR 354 (not reported by LexisNexis®)).

In R v MacDonagh, the Court of Appeal said that the essence of driving was the driver's use of the controls for the purpose of directing the movement of the vehicle.

In R v MacDonagh, the defendant was pushing a car along a road with one hand on the steering wheel and with both feet on the