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Reckless driving

Reckless driving, how it is used now, is a legal term tailored specifically for municipalities and insurance companies in order to make enormous amounts of money on drivers.

It used to make a lot of sense in the old times, when governments did not touch it yet, and one could rightly call reckless a person reading a book while driving, or a person driving a car with damaged brakes. Not any more. The mere fact, that in most states one gets charged with reckless driving automatically, if one exceeds any speed limit by more than 20 mph, devalues this term dramatically. We need to invent another term for the former behavior.

When I was charged with reckless driving the first time, just a few months after moving into US, I was insulted badly. By that time I was already a pretty safe and experienced driver, and there was nothing reckless in my driving at the moment. My car was designed for this speed, and it was in a good shape, I was fresh and focused, road was a good divided interstate highway, there was very light traffic, weather was perfect – everything lined up to ensure it was really safe to cruise at a pretty high speed. I did have some illusions about US court system at that time, and I was going to go to court (more then a couple of hundred miles) to defend my reputation – it was not about speed, reckless driving charge did hurt my self- esteem.

When I cooled down a bit, I hired a lawyer. The lawyer was able to negotiate the charge from “40+ above speed limit plus reckless driving” to “driving on the wrong side of the road”, and I paid him flat fee, fine and court fees included. This effectively killed all illusions I had about US court system. Now I know, that traffic courts with their entire supporting infrastructure - police officers setting speed traps, lawyers charging flat fee, etc – are just another source of income for local municipalities.

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