Reporting dangerous driving | startrescue.co.uk (2023)

How to report dangerous driving

While most drivers control their vehicle in a safe and competent manner, there remains a minority of bad drivers in the UK.

If you've witnessed an incident of dangerous driving, you may believe you are powerless to do anything about it. However, if you feel another motorist has put themselves, their passengers or other road users (including you) at risk, you can report their dangerous driving to the police.

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What is dangerous driving?

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, dangerous driving is “driving [that] falls far below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious that driving in that way would be dangerous”.

Note the word “far” since it emphasises the serious nature of the alleged offence; “bad driver” does not nearly cover it.

Examples of dangerous driving include:

  • Racing or driving aggressively
  • Driving while under the influence of drink or drugs
  • Dangerous overtaking
  • Driving despite being unfit to drive
  • Driving a defective vehicle

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What is careless driving?

Dangerous driving should not be confused with “careless driving” which is a standard of driving which falls below the level of safe and competent driving, but not is not as extreme as dangerous during.

Examples of careless driving:

  • Tailgating (driving too close behind another vehicle)
  • Inside overtaking
  • Lane hogging
  • Driving through a red light
  • Driving while distracted (e.g. using a phone)
  • Sudden/violent breaking

The penalty for careless driving may be a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100 and three points on your licence, although a driver education course may be offered by some police forces, in which case such the above penalties may be avoided.

What is anti-social driving?

The term “anti-social driving” may also be used.

Avon and Somerset Police states that anti-social driving is “any activity involving a vehicle which causes alarm or distress”. This includes: racing, drifting around corners, making excessive noise or playing loud music from the vehicle.

Police have the power to issue a £100 Fixed Penalty Notice and three licence points, even if an accident has not taken place.

(Video) Reporting dangerous driving vehicle to the police

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Using a mobile phone while driving

Using a mobile phone while driving can be extremely dangerous - whether it’s hand held or handsfree.

Drivers using phone communications are four times more likely to be in a collision resulting in injuries.

Mobile phone use behind the wheel can be a major distraction, making it harder to concentrate on the road ahead and on other road users. Research suggests it can take half a minute to regain full concentration after a phone call, during which time the quality of driving is impaired.

Using a hands free device while driving is not illegal, but it can be as dangerous as using a hand-held phone. Handsfree should be set up before the journey commences.

Note that while using a hands free kit may be lawful, if it causes a distraction and contributes to an accident, a motorist could still find themselves in hot water with the law.

Should I report dangerous driving?

You may have reservations about informing the police about an incident of dangerous driving, but doing so may help make the roads safer.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, research suggests people are significantly less likely to report an instance of dangerous driving committed by a family member compared to a stranger.

In the case of a family member who has been driving dangerously while drunk (or who may be about to), many people prefer to take away the person's keys, call them a taxi or offer them a lift.

Whether or not the person who has committed an alleged dangerous driving offence is known to you, you can always inform the police anonymously, eliminating much of the stress caused by doing so.

How to report dangerous driving

If the incident is in progress, you should call the emergency services on 999, so they can take action to stop the driver from posing a risk to themselves and others.

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Ensure you're in a safe place to make the call - and of course, never be tempted to make any call while you yourself are driving.

You can make a traffic offence report to the police by:

  • Calling the police on 101 (or 999 if the incident is in progress). You can also contact your local police station.
  • Contact police by email and upload dashcam footage (if you have it)

Thanks to the prevalence of dash cams, it is easier for police to secure a conviction in the modern day.

If you do decide to send dashcam footage to the police, ensure you are parked somewhere safe when you access the data, and be aware that any other offences on the footage (including yours) may also be investigated.

You may also send footage of the incident taken with your phone, but this should not be captured while you are behind the wheel (or otherwise cutting yourself at risk).

Websites like Nextbase.com make it easy to find your local force and upload your dashcam footage. It provides further information on how to report a bad driver to the relevant police force.

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I don't have a dashcam. What should I do?

You can still report an incident of dangerous driving if you don't have a dashcam. You will need to provide as many details as you can, including:

  • Registration number
  • Make, model and colour of the vehicle
  • Date and time when the incident took place
  • Description of the driver

You can use a form on the Metropolitan Police website to report an incident. The incident can have happened anywhere in the UK.

Can I be sure my report will be anonymous?

Yes, your traffic offence report to the police will be anonymous. However, officers may contact you for more information, and you may be required to attend court if you are a witness.

What will the police do about it?

A substantial proportion of incidents of dangerous driving result in police action.

This action may take the form of:

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  • The incident being dealt with by the local Road Policing Unit
  • The report will be added to a database of dangerous driving reports
  • The driver in question may be contacted by letter informing them that a complaint has been made against them.

DVLA report a driver

You can also contact the DVLA to report a driver regarding an incident of erratic or dangerous driving. It will be anonymous if you make the report over the phone, but not if you choose to report using the DVLA’s online form.

What are the penalties for dangerous driving?

Offence:Causing death by dangerous driving

Maximum penalty:

  • 14 years’ imprisonment
  • Unlimited fine
  • Obligatory disqualification (min. 2 years)

Penalty points:3 to 11 (if exceptionally not disqualified)

Offence:Causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs

Maximum penalty:

  • 14 years’ imprisonment
  • Unlimited fine
  • Obligatory disqualification (min. 2 years)

Penalty points:3 to 11 (if exceptionally not disqualified)

Offence: Dangerous driving

Maximum penalty:

  • 2 years’ imprisonment
  • Unlimited fine
  • Obligatory disqualification

Penalty points:3 to 11 (if exceptionally not disqualified)

Offence:Careless and inconsiderate driving

Maximum penalty:

  • Unlimited fine
  • Discretionary disqualification

Penalty points:3 to 9

Offence: Using a vehicle in a dangerous condition

Maximum penalty:

  • LGV or PCV unlimited fine
  • Other vehicles £2,500 fine
  • Obligatory disqualification if offence committed within 3 years of a previous conviction for a similar offence (minimum 6 months)
  • Otherwise discretionary disqualification

Penalty points:3 in each case

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Offence: Using a hand-held mobile phone when driving

Maximum penalty:

  • £1,000 fine (£2,500 for PCV or goods vehicle)
  • Discretionary disqualification

Penalty points:6

Find out more information on motoring penalties on the Highway Code website.

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Will a convicted dangerous driver end up in prison?

Whether or not someone convicted of dangerous driving receives a custodial sentence depends on how severe the case is. For example, if someone is killed or seriously injured, the case for a jail term may be much stronger.

The maximum prison sentence for causing death by dangerous driving (offence code DD80) is 10 years.

If the police have grounds for suspecting someone has committed dangerous driving, they will receive a court summons.

Insurance for those convicted of dangerous driving

Motorists who have been convicted of dangerous or careless driving may find it difficult to obtain insurance.

Providers that do offer insurance will likely charge a higher premium, since the driver is deemed a higher risk than a driver without a conviction.

The bottom line

By making a traffic offence report you are helping to reduce the number of bad drivers in the UK, while promoting safer roads for us all. It’s possible your actions could help prevent someone being injured or even killed.

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FAQs

How do I report someone for dangerous driving UK? ›

You can report offenders by calling the police's non-emergency number 101. Alternatively, many police forces now accept online reports of using a mobile phone while driving, you may need to be willing to attend court to give evidence and the following information: The driver's number plate.

How do I report a dangerous driver Online UK? ›

Reporting Dangerous Driving Online. Navigate to the DVLA's website and find the driving-incident report form. If you'd prefer to file a complaint online rather than over the telephone, the DVLA has a form set up that allows you to report dangerous or erratic driving. Unlike calling in, this method is not anonymous.

What to do if someone is a dangerous driver? ›

Who should I contact? If you believe you've witnessed a motorist driving carelessly or dangerously – putting themselves, their passengers and other motorists at risk of an accident – and you feel implored to do something about it, you can phone the non-emergency police number by calling 101.

Should I report dangerous driving to the police? ›

In an emergency call the police on 999, for non-emergencies contact 101. For everything else, try the informtion on this page. If you've been involved in a road traffic collision, or think you might have witnessed an offence on the roads in London, report it using the simple online tool from the Met.

What is classed as dangerous driving UK? ›

The offence of dangerous driving is when driving falls far below the minimum standard expected of a competent and careful driver, and includes behaviour that could potentially endanger yourself or other drivers. Examples of dangerous driving are: speeding, racing, or driving aggressively.

Can you send dashcam footage to police? ›

Only if the images clearly demonstrate the offence being committed. Dependent on the offence, the Police may require the video footage of the whole incident. They may also need to see more of your journey so that they can understand the context of what happened. Will i have to go to court and give evidence?

Do you have to report a minor car accident to police UK? ›

You must report the accident to the police within 24 hours if you do not give your details at the time of the accident. You must also report the accident to your insurance company, even if you're not planning to make a claim.

What is 101 online? ›

Reporting non-emergencies

Report crimes online or by calling 101 if they are not an emergency. You can also call 101 to give information to the police or make an enquiry.

How do I stop my elderly parents from driving UK? ›

If you're seriously concerned about an older person's driving, you should write in confidence to the DVLA. They may then follow up with the local police. Think carefully about how this would affect your relationship with the person and whether there is another way for you to get them to think about giving up.

What is the difference between careless and dangerous driving? ›

Careless driving falls below the minimum standard expected of a careful driver and includes driving without reasonable consideration for other road users. Dangerous driving includes behaviour that could potentially endanger yourself or other drivers.

Is dangerous driving an arrestable offence? ›

The penalties for causing death by dangerous driving are one to 14 years in prison, and a driving ban for a minimum of two years.

What counts as careless driving? ›

Aggressive driving. Ignoring road signs and traffic lights. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Driving in an unfit state, such as while tired, injured, or on medication. Avoidably distracted.

What is the punishment for dangerous driving? ›

What is the mandatory penalty for dangerous driving? Dangerous driving carries a mandatory penalty of a 12-month driving ban. You'll also get a minimum of three points on your licence. Cases will be tried at either a Magistrate's Court or the Crown Court.

What happens if someone reported me for reckless driving UK? ›

The police will pass your report to the local police force's Road Policing Unit. This team can then choose to deal with it and see if any further actions need to be taken. Your report will be submitted to a database of dangerous driving reports.

Is brake checking illegal UK? ›

Is brake checking illegal UK? A brake check is an illegal act and highly dangerous. Not only could this dangerous driving result in an accident causing serious injury or death, it can also have a financial burden if your vehicle is damaged and your insurance premium rises.

How do the police prove dangerous driving? ›

Proving Dangerous Driving

Evidence of the consumption of alcohol or drugs. Excessive speed. Offence committed whilst driver was disqualified/had no licence and/or insurance. Competitive driving, racing or showing off.

How can police prove careless driving? ›

For the prosecution to prove the offence of driving without reasonable consideration, it must show that other road users were inconvenienced by the defendant's driving, although this can be proved by inference. Other road users can include passengers in the defendant's car.

Does dangerous driving always attend court? ›

Cases of dangerous driving where other drivers are at risk of harm will always be sentenced in court.

Do police do anything with dashcam footage? ›

Can the police seize the footage from my dash-cam / helmet camera? Yes, there are occasions when the police can seize a dash-cam or a helmet cam. This would most likely take place when dangerous driving has taken place, or there's a fatality, and it might not necessarily be seized at the roadside.

Can you be prosecuted from dash cam footage? ›

Dash cam footage can be used to prosecute for a range of offences, including speeding, dangerous or careless driving and driving while using a mobile phone.

Can dash cam footage be used as evidence? ›

Dash Cam footage CAN be used as evidence in court, and has been used effectively over the past few years to prosecute and even hand out jail sentences A new resource, the National Dash Cam Safety Portal (NDCSP), now allows people to send footage to the relevant police force along with a police report if they have ...

Can you report anonymously to DVLA? ›

If you see an untaxed vehicle on a road, you can report it. Your report is anonymous and will be investigated.

What happens if someone reported me for reckless driving UK? ›

The police will pass your report to the local police force's Road Policing Unit. This team can then choose to deal with it and see if any further actions need to be taken. Your report will be submitted to a database of dangerous driving reports.

What is the punishment for dangerous driving? ›

What is the mandatory penalty for dangerous driving? Dangerous driving carries a mandatory penalty of a 12-month driving ban. You'll also get a minimum of three points on your licence. Cases will be tried at either a Magistrate's Court or the Crown Court.

How do you deal with tailgaters UK? ›

So, to summarise: Don't speed up - you'll only start tailgating the car in front of you. Don't brake sharply or flash your lights. Ease off the accelerator - if there's a collision there should be less damage at slower speeds.

How do I tell my elderly parent not to drive? ›

4 tips to convince a senior to stop driving
  1. Discreetly prepare a list of observations about their driving ability. ...
  2. Come up with alternative transportation options. ...
  3. Approach the subject respectfully and acknowledge that this is difficult for them. ...
  4. Be understanding and give them time to accept the changes.

Can you report elderly driver to DVLA? ›

If you're seriously concerned about an older person's driving, you should write in confidence to the DVLA. They may then follow up with the local police.

How do I get a hold of DVLA? ›

If you would like to contact DVLA, you can ring them up at 0300 790 6802. If you're calling from abroad, please dial +44 844 306 9203.

How do you prove careless driving? ›

To prove careless driving it has to be shown the standard of your driving fell below that of the reasonably competent driver. The Highway Code is indicative of the standard of a reasonably competent driver that should be applied.

What counts as careless driving? ›

racing, going too fast, or driving aggressively. ignoring traffic lights, road signs or warnings from passengers. overtaking dangerously. driving under the influence of drink or drugs, including prescription drugs.

What is careless and inconsiderate driving? ›

Careless or inconsiderate driving

The offence of driving without due care and attention (careless driving) is committed when your driving falls below the minimum standard expected of a competent and careful driver, and includes driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.

How do the police prove dangerous driving? ›

Proving Dangerous Driving

Evidence of the consumption of alcohol or drugs. Excessive speed. Offence committed whilst driver was disqualified/had no licence and/or insurance. Competitive driving, racing or showing off.

Can you get points for dangerous driving? ›

Dangerous and careless driving have a range of penalties depending on how serious the offence was. At the lower end of the scale, it could be a fine and points on your licence.

Can magistrates deal with dangerous driving? ›

As dangerous driving is classed as a serious offence, a case can be heard in either the Magistrate's or Crown Court. In the Magistrate's Court, the sentencing powers are more limited with a maximum penalty of a custodial sentence of 6 months. If the case is heard in the Crown Court the sentencing powers are greater.

Is it illegal to brake check a tailgater UK? ›

Is brake checking illegal UK? A brake check is an illegal act and highly dangerous. Not only could this dangerous driving result in an accident causing serious injury or death, it can also have a financial burden if your vehicle is damaged and your insurance premium rises.

How do you get someone to stop tailgating you? ›

If you're on a multi-lane road and it's safe to move to another lane, then put on your turn signal and get out of the way. This is the easiest way to end tailgating. The driver behind you is being unsafe and if you can solve the whole problem simply by switching lanes, then do so as soon as possible.

What to do when a driver is tailgating you? ›

Don't Get Tackled: How to Deal With Tailgaters Safely
  1. Keep your distance. The best way to deal with a tailgater is to stay away from them in the first place. ...
  2. Stay calm. ...
  3. Get out of the way. ...
  4. Maintain a consistent speed. ...
  5. Don't overuse your brakes. ...
  6. Don't become a tailgater yourself. ...
  7. Don't try to police the roadway.
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