Rash and Negligent Driving: Laws and Punishment in India

Rash and Negligent Driving: Laws and Punishment in India

This article on ‘Rash and Negligent Driving in India: Laws and Punishment’ was written by Jignesh Parmar, an intern at Legal Upanishad.


In this article, we will discuss rash and negligent driving in India. We will take a look at legislation and punishment dealing with this particular concept which will help us to find the effects of such activities on the public in general.

This article will also provide some basic statistical information regarding harsh driving in India in the past couple of years and how many cases have been taken under consideration till now.

Before the conclusion of this topic, we will also take a look at some of the major sections of the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedural Code related to rash and negligent driving.

What is negligent driving?

The concept of ‘Hit and Run’ is very common in India. The term ‘Hit and Run’ can be described as, when a person hits another human being or any living creator with his vehicle and runs away from the spot of the accident. The majority of Hit and Run cases occur because of negligent driving and less than a few are considered inevitable accidents.

The driver of every vehicle owes a duty of care to everyone who is walking on the road and if he fails or breaches his duty of care then, the scenario will lead to negligence on the part of the driver. In India, one must learn the essentials of the motor vehicles act which elaborates on the concept of negligent driving in detail.

 Statistic of negligent driving cases in India

The statistics of road accidents show that roads are getting unsafe in India. More than 30% of road accidents are regarding Hit and Run in India, but only 10% of drivers are booked under Hit and Run accidents every year. A lack of concerning factors for others’ safety is one of the major factors contributing to the act of negligence especially related to driving.

Provisions for Rash and Negligent Driving

 The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 deals with the major part describing the concept and punishment for negligent and rash driving and a few sections of the Indian Penal Code i.e. Section 279, 304A, 338 imposes on the accused for Hit and Run case if he found guilty at any stage.

Negligent driving as per Motor Vehicles Act

The Motor Vehicles Act defines ‘Hit and Run’ as an accident arising out of motor vehicles, an identity that cannot be traced in spite of reasonable efforts (Section 161). After the amendment of the Motor Vehicles Act in the year 2019, the following changes were made regarding section 161.

  • The compensation for the death of the victim increased to rupees 200000, earlier it was 25000.
  • The compensation for bodily injury increased to rupees 50000, earlier it was 12500.

Section 164B of the said Act has also introduced Motor Vehicle Accident Fund in their latest amendment. The Fund will help to provide relief to the victims of rash driving by the accused. The amount received by the funds will be deducted from compensation which may be offered to the victims by the Tribunals.

 Rash and Negligent Driving according to the Indian Penal Code

  • One, who drives negligently on public roads, is guilty of an offence according to Section 279 of the Indian Penal Code. He may get the punishment of imprisonment which will be not less than a period of 6 months, a fine up to rupees 1000 or both for injuring other people on road. The offence registered under Section 279 is cognizable as well as bailable.
  • If a person was driving negligently on road and was not under influence of alcohol then, the person would be charged under section 304a of the Indian Penal Code. The driver may face imprisonment for 1 year which may get extended to 2 years, a fine of rupees 1000 or both. The act committed under 304A is non-bailable and an individual might also be convicted by lifetime imprisonment.
  • If in case, the police file the case in 302 of the Indian Penal Code, the driver may face a death sentence or life imprisonment.
  • If the act of rash driving is conducted by any minor then, his parent will have to face 3 years of jail and a huge amount of fine.

Provision related to Rash Driving under Criminal Procedural Code

The victim of negligence driving can also for compensation under section 357A of the Criminal Procedural Code, the accused must pay the compensation to the victim if he asked under this section.

Rash and Negligent Driving: Laws and Punishment in India

Difference between negligent and reckless driving

The cases of Reckless driving and negligence might result in damages and injuries which are essentially the same but; negligent driving comes under civil traffic offence while reckless driving is defined as a crime.

Reckless driving

Reckless driving includes unsafe and unlawful driving that disregards the safety of the public in general. The individual driver engaged in such driving is aware of the consequences but still decides to continue their activity in a dangerous manner. The driver not only takes unnecessary risks but also decides to drive in areas where the chance of injuring someone is high. Due to the element of intention and willfulness of the driver involved in reckless driving, it is therefore considered a crime.

Negligent Driving

The term ‘Negligence’ comes into the picture when the driver fails to use reasonable care towards others while driving his vehicle. It may lead to damage and personal injuries to the people at large or any individual. The driver has a legal obligation to behave in a certain manner which is mentioned by law but, when the driver breaches the duty of care by behaving in a particular manner or fails to behave at all, they are called to be negligent. The negligent driver does not have the intention to behave in such a way therefore; the accidents under negligence are mostly referred to as traffic violations.

The damages one can avail regarding both the offences differ as per fact and circumstances of the case but; we must also have to digest the fact that, many people in our country are not aware of the potential compensation as well as legal strategies one must pursue.


Before the creation of the Fatal Accidents Act and Motor Vehicles Act, the concept of negligent driving was a part of the law of torts. After the creation of those legislations, the concept of negligent driving got codified and provided the essentials regarding the term. The concept of Rash and negligent driving is civil as well criminal wrong. The victims can also pray for compensation in court if they require any kind of financial recovery from the driver.

The majority of the cases regarding negligent driving are dealt with the accord and satisfaction where the mediator negotiate with victims or accused as the case may be, regarding compensation. This saves the time and money of both parties.