Written by Gregory Monte.
I don’t usually write about traffic laws in other countries, but when I read that a driver in the UK got a ticket for splashing a pedestrian, I felt compelled to check out the section of the code which he had violated: UK Road Traffic Act, Part 1, Section 3:
“If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence.”
As far as I am aware, there are no laws exactly like this in the United States, however all states do have careless driving laws that use very similar words. Consider New Jersey’s NJSA 39: 4-97:
“A person who drives a vehicle carelessly, or without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property, shall be guilty of careless driving.”
So, even though no U.S. state has an “inconsiderate” driving statute, is it possible to get a careless driving ticket if you splash a pedestrian with your car?
When I searched Google Scholar using the terms “careless driving” and “splashing” in order to find cases of purposeful pedestrian splashing, none of the results were specifically relevant. Nonetheless, I still think that a ticket for splashing is possible because one of the results (a PA Superior Court case from 2018, Commonwealth v. Yoder) indicated the following:
“… she may be convicted of careless driving if she ‘drives a vehicle in careless disregard for the safety of persons or property’ … There is no requirement that an injury or property damage actually occur.”
I could easily imagine a situation where the judge believes a police officer’s testimony that the splashing action was “likely to endanger a person.” After all, something floating in the water could strike the pedestrian’s eye, the water might knock him down, etc.
Incidentally, if you haven’t seen the video showing a truck splashing pedestrians after a rain storm, you need to check it out. I realize that I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I have to be honest and tell you that I was laughing out loud when I saw it.