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How to report reckless and dangerous drivers

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We’ve all felt that sudden pit in our stomachs. That moment when we see a car, truck, or hardcore 4×4 swerving like a reckless wrecking ball between lanes or barreling dangerously close behind us. Our hands clench the wheel tight as we mutter, “Slow down…” secretly hoping to make it safely through the nerve-racking encounter.

These heart-pounding moments caused by reckless drivers seem to be happening all too often, and there’s a reason for this.

Recent statistics on crashes caused by reckless driving behaviors paint a sobering picture. Reckless driving accounts for 33% of all major car crash fatalities in the U.S., totaling over 13,000 preventable deaths annually. In 2021 alone, nearly 43,000 lives were lost in traffic crashes nationwide, marking the highest death toll in 16 years. Deaths due to excessive speeding, impaired driving, and distraction are all rising. In Florida alone, reckless driving cases have spiked 21.5% over the previous year. 

Urgent action must be taken to curb dangerous driving practices and hold reckless motorists accountable before more innocent lives are cut short. By understanding exactly how to spot and report hazardous driving, we can keep our roadways safe for everyone, and there are a few ways we can make that happen. 

Knowing the difference between reckless and dangerous driving

Regarding unsafe behavior behind the wheel, there are two main categories to consider: Reckless and dangerous driving. Understanding the difference is key to accurate reporting.

Reckless driving refers to operating a vehicle with blatant disregard for safety and a willful choice to endanger people or property. Behaviors like adrenaline-pumping speed demons pushing 20+ mph over the limit, daredevils swerving through dense traffic for thrills, arrogant drivers blatantly running red lights without slowing, aggressive tailgaters dangerously hanging just inches from your bumper, illegal street racers jockeying for position, oblivious motorists driving the wrong way on highways, and reckless drivers making illegal passes all fall under reckless driving.

On the other hand, dangerous driving is any hazardous driving that unintentionally puts the public at risk due to a motorist’s inattention, poor judgment, or lack of skill. For example, distracted driving activities like texting, applying makeup, or even eating food while behind the wheel are considered dangerous behaviors, even if the driver doesn’t deliberately intend to drive unsafely by engaging in these actions. When reporting incidents, distinguishing between willful reckless driving and unintentional dangerous driving ensures authorities take the appropriate actions. While dangerous drivers may need education, penalties like fines or license suspensions may be warranted for reckless driving offenses to prevent repeated violations.

Gathering evidence

If you ever witness reckless or dangerous driving behaviors, gathering as much concrete evidence about the incident as possible should be your top priority, especially securing the vehicle’s license plate number. Snapping photos or taking videos can also furnish authorities with visual proof of traffic violations or hazardous maneuvers. Just be sure to capture evidence safely, keeping your eyes mostly on the road.

Dash cams provide an undetectable way to record handy footage, complete with timestamps, date stamps, and GPS coordinates built right in. But even without video backup, you can still collect important evidence. Take note of the vehicle’s color, make, model, number of passengers, and any unique bumper stickers or other identifiers. Jot down approximate location specifics like landmarks, street names, intersections, highway exits, and neighborhoods to pinpoint the area later when filing an official report.

Detailed vehicle descriptions and precise location details are crucial. But the driver’s observable dangerous behaviors serve as the most compelling evidence. Document any traffic violations along with erratic motions like swerving, tailgating distance, or excessive speed observed. The more exhaustive the behavior details, the stronger the evidence to establish a clear record of the reckless driving incident. Any eyewitness accounts from passengers or other motorists who observed the hazardous driving can also hold weight. Detailed evidence is key to bringing dangerous drivers to justice.

Ways to report reckless and dangerous driving

Don’t allow anger or fear to prevent you from doing anything about dangerous driving. Reporting unsafe drivers is simple and essential for improving road safety. Effective reports may be filed via emergency channels, local agencies, or internet platforms with only a few easy steps. Keep reading to find out!

Emergency situations

If you ever feel a reckless driver has created an urgent situation requiring immediate emergency response, always call 911 immediately. For instance, alert dispatchers promptly if you witness a speeding driver swerving uncontrollably or a wrong-way driver barreling towards oncoming traffic.

Dispatch can promptly get law enforcement to the scene to intervene before a crash or injuries occur. Calling 911 also establishes a documented record of the reckless driving incident, complete with time and location specifics. Don’t hesitate to call in true emergencies; it could save lives.

Non-emergency reports

In less dire cases not requiring a real-time response, you can file a dangerous or reckless driving report with your local police department or DMV later on. This creates a paper trail to help identify repeat offenders if multiple independent witnesses submit reports on the same license plate number.

Be sure to furnish all collected evidence plus your written statement online or in person. Law enforcement can then investigate and determine if penalties like tickets or suspensions are justified based on the circumstances of the reported behavior.

Online reporting platforms

While commenting about the incident online isn’t going to be a formal complaint but it can be a way for others to know and vent your anger. You never know the report might just go viral and the authorities would eventually act on it if they see the merit. 

Subreddits like Dashcams and Idiotsincars are quite popular. However, there are dedicated platforms like LookupAPlate.com that offer a fast way to report bad drivers by license plate

On LookupAPlate, users can report incidents by leaving detailed comments, and uploading images and videos on the platform. This information being publicly available, may discourage unsafe driving behavior and also alert others to be cautious of such drivers on the road.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using LookupAPlate’s services: 

  1. Search the license plate number and state of registration on LookupAPlate to pull up the vehicle’s profile.
  2. Upload any photos, videos, or other evidence you gather to document the reckless driving behaviors.
  3. Describe in detail the dangerous driving you witnessed, including the car model, location, and nature of the incident.
  4. You can even request the registered driver’s identifying information from LookupAPlate’s data provider, as long as it’s for a permissible purpose under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). 
  5. Submit your report so it gets published publicly.


The road isn’t just strips of asphalt connecting point A to point B. It’s a shared space, a communal asset where we have rights and responsibilities. By reporting reckless or dangerous driving, we aren’t just complaining; we’re contributing to the collective safety of every driver, passenger, and pedestrian.

So, the next time your drive is interrupted by a reckless speedster or a distracted driver, remember: you have the tools and know-how to make a change. For the love of safe roads, let’s be vigilant, proactive, and responsible. Let’s report, act, and drive the message home!

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