Does being a bad driver make me a bad person?


I’ve been lurking for a long time, but this is my first post. This board seems so kind and supportive and I’m hoping someone will be able to help me out here with what seems like kind of a silly issue.

I’ve been driving for about 20 years. In that time, I’ve had 3 accidents, two minor and one which totalled my car (only very minor injuries, thank God). I was determined to be more than 50% at fault in each case, though I only got a ticket for one of them. In one case, the driver in front of me braked very suddenly, but I rear-ended him (so my fault). In another, I was waiting to turn left (south). There were two lanes of traffic heading north, the right lane was backed up waiting for a light and a driver stopped and waved me through. I inched forward but another driver, who was speeding and had been in the right lane, moved into the left lane and hit me (I got the ticket, as it was my fault, I was turning left).

I’ve also received two speeding tickets in my driving career (both for 5 mph over) and one for turning right on a red light when I wasn’t supposed to (It was dark and I was unfamiliar with the area, but I should have been paying more attention). Oh, and I once sheared off my side mirror on the side of my parents’ garage :o . I think I backed into a mailbox when I had my learner’s permit, too.

I just got one of the above-mentioned speeding tickets last week and it’s really thrown my mind for a loop, remembering all of my past experiences. The officer was really mean to me, yelling and everything because I pulled into a parking lot a few feet ahead instead of stopping immediately on the road. It’s embarrassing, sure, but more than that I feel like I’m some kind of road menace. I’m not a reckless driver-- I’m really not-- but I guess I’m just a bad one. I’m beginning to feel like I don’t deserve to be given the privelege of driving and I’m not sure if I trust myself with my most precious cargo-- my children!-- in the car with me.

Not sure what I’m looking for here-- a vent, I guess. Please be kind with me. I’m feeling really low about my driving abilities right now. Thanks.


Maybe get your eyes checked? Or look at your car from a different perspective?

DH got 3-4 speeding tickets over his driving record. It wasn’t until I got behind the wheel of his car that I realized why: the odometer, besides being at an angle behind the steering wheel so you couldn’t see it, also had an old-fashioned arrow. So, depending on what angle/way you looked at it, your speed varied by +/- 10mph!

Lol, and all this time I had given him so much trouble about being a speed demon.

Do you have a long-time car, or do you change cars frequently? This was his “one and only” he didn’t know a difference existed!


Dont forget!! A Car can be a lethal weapon.
Think of other people or animals that you could hurt while speeding…
It does make you a bad person if you dont consider other lives while behind the wheel of your Car/Bike…
Its not hard to drive carefully…:thumbsup:


it’s been many years since my grandmother’s driven a car, but sometime in her 40’s she had more than her share of tickets and fender-benders. That’s when she re-enrolled in a driving school.

It helped her confidence a lot to recognise just how much she was doing right and to improve her common mistakes. For a few hundred dollars (I know it’s no small fee) you can really turn things around. (pun? yes.)


As an added bonus, you may qualify for a reduction in your insurance rates if you take a remedial driving course.


Unequivocally: NO, it does not make you a bad person.

I think you’re on here looking for support than advice, and I wish I could give you a big hug.

My dear parish priest, the holiest person I know and a wonderful spiritual mentor, is a miserable driver. Not reckless, just a bad driver. He’s had fender benders and runs over curbs and the like. I know he’s a bad driver, and I think he knows it too (he doesn’t drive much now, he lives in a community with other priests and doesn’t need to) but it does not in the least make him a bad person.

More importantly, God loves you regardless of your past mistakes. He wants you to correct them to the extent possible, of course, but He loves you.


ps I read somewhere recently that the “average” driver gets in some kind of crash every 7.1 years. So you’re not too far off the average.


The one thing my older brother told me when I was a late teen that I still apply today (and remind myself, my passengers, and those who drive me) is that there are ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS second chances to make turns or go through an intersection at a yield. We have a cousin who was "T"ed when making a left turn and landed in a coma for almost a month, I think that is when my brother adopted this policy of second chances so don’t rush things if you’re unsure of an opening and as soon as I could drive, he reminded me. But you being a bad person, nope.


Coming from someone who drives on the wrong side of the road. :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

Just kidding knite.:smiley:


I don’t think you are a bad driver. Therefore, not a bad person. Over 20 years that really isn’t too many incidents. I get a speeding ticket every 2 years on average. I live in Houston and sometimes if you don’t keep with the flow of traffic you are more of a hazard. I just seem to get caught while the others fly by. Also I think it was rude of the officer to yell at you. I believe Texas has a law that states that you can pull over at a safe location if you don’t want to on the side of a highway. Especially at night they say it’s important to pull off to a well lit area. Not all cops are good cops.

It appears your confidence has been rattled so I wonder if you could look into a car control school. I was going to go to one thru my husbands local chapter of the SCCA (sports car club of america) but we had schedule conflicts. You are with and instructor on a closed course and you are placed in some real life situations. i.e. They wet the ground so you can go into a skid to learn how to get out of it. My husband says there are all sorts of people who turn out for the class in all kinds of cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans. Maybe this will help you feel like a more prepared driver.


Thanks for your kind words. But does this mean I would be a bad person if you thought I was a bad driver? I know I’m not “bad” in the sense of recklessness-- I don’t use my cell phone while driving, or weave in and out of traffic, or cut people off, or anything like that.

Yeah, my confidence has been rattled. I’ve always had this irrational fear of police officers (I don’t know why; I don’t have any arrests in my past or anything!) so when this guy started hollering at me, it really got to me. I was just coming home from a new job, didn’t know the area very well, and felt lost, physically and emotionally.

I read somewhere recently that the “average” driver gets in some kind of crash every 7.1 years.

Really? This seems high to me since my mom has been in one crash in her 50 years of driving and my husband’s been in only one. Makes me feel better if it’s true, though!

Keep praying for me, if you remember. Thanks.


No being a bad driver wouldn’t make you a bad person. Poor choice of wording on my part! I don’t like cops either. I don’t understand why I always get a ticket when I NEVER try to pull any sob story with them. My husbands uncle is a cop and I need to call him to find out if I should try to give the cop some BS story about having to go to the bathroom. 1/2 the time it’s true for me anyways! :smiley:


Drive Gently. The life you save may be your own, someones parents, children, aunts/uncles best friend, caregiver, sibling, parishioner…


No, you’re not a bad person, even if you are a bad driver. Bad driving isn’t a moral failing unless you’re deliberately setting out to be reckless or are driving drunk (which you aren’t). It’s really good that you are a careful driver and don’t purposely use distracting technology. I wonder though if there’s some distraction that you aren’t accounting for, or if perhaps you have something blocking part of your field of vision. It might not hurt to take some private driving lessons (NOT with a class of cocky 16 year olds) to see if the instructor might be able to shed some light on the situation. Good luck.


**I think it is our moral responsibility to know our limits and abilities. I don’t believe this is the case of the OP but I am thinking more of someone who has some sort of impairment (like an elderly person who doesn’t drive as well anymore). If we are getting into accidents or near-misses and think it may be something we are doing (or not doing) we have a moral obligation to stop driving and fix the problem.

With my fibromyalgia I go through periods of time where driving would be down right dangerous for me and anyone else on the road. I am not driving recklessly or drunk, but I know I am not safe. So I don’t drive. No matter how inconvenient it gets. When i feel confident in my abilities I drive again.**


True, and I think the OP is concerned and wishes to address the problem. This doesn’t however make her a “bad” person.


**No, she is not a bad person.:slight_smile: I don’t even think she has a problem that needs addressing. None of us are perfect drivers.

Just wanted to address the moral responsibility issue in general.


How many “bad” instances make a “bad” driver?

If you speed consistently does that make you “bad”?

If you ride the brakes, consistently cut people off, don’t use your blinkers, ride your horn?

Do you have to kill someone, like my sister that was killed by a drunk driver?

If you know you do “bad” actions and do nothing to stop it is that “sin”?

I judge no one, neither the OP or you. I leave that to yourselves.


It sounds to me as if you’ve perhaps followed too closely a couple times, but the other instances sound like you were caught “being human”, as I once heard it put; turning right on red when you didn’t know it was forbidden, 5 mph over the limit, etc. That happened to me last year; I was moseying along at 45 mph, within the limit, when I saw a blue flashing light behind me. Turns out that his radar gun indicated I was going 50 (45 mph zone) though that is not what my speedometer said. I was fortunate in that he was a nice young policeman who actually laughed when I told him that I had wondered who he was after, as I KNEW it wasn’t I!!!

Also -sounds as if that officer was on a bit of a power trip; police here actually prefer if you pull safely into a parking lot, rather than tie up traffic in the lane.

You are not a bad person - just a bit unlucky. A good defensive driving course is a great idea, however, and can be a moneysaver.


Well, don’t hold it against all of us who are trying to do our jobs. As for the person the OP dealt with, I’ll agree I have no idea why he needed to be yelling at the her. Please be mad at the bad officer, and not all of us. As with any other “group,” there are bad apples. The best we can do are try to weed them out.

I am, however, surprised at the number of you who have gotten stopped for 5 over?? I work on the interstate and almost never cite anyone unless they are doing at least 15 over (semis and such are usually 10+ over). Even in town, our supervisors would be coming down on us hard for stopping people at only 5 over.

Also, with non-discrimination our (and I mean in my department) supervisors are really looking at why people get warnings. That’s why, we generally don’t do warnings unless it’s a really good reason. After all, if I give a white person a warning at 16 over and the cite a black person later the same day at 16 over, I have to explain it. That has a general tendency now of causing us to cite everyone at a pre-set limit so there is no issue of possible discrimination.

As far as pulling ahead to a safe location, as long as you are not giving chase (i.e. speeding up), I don’t see why that’s a problem? Every once in a while, we’ll have someone on the interstate go to the next exit cause they don’t want to stop on the road. Again, just don’t speed up. Sounds like you just got a (not a proper word for CAF) of an officer. I’ll apologize for the overall impact on the rest of us.

Now in answer to your question about does it make you a bad person? Absolutely not! Don’t forget the once every 7.1 years for an accident is a statistical average. Some will be worse, and some will be better. Your problem could be a matter of statistical “bad luck.” If you get to the point where you don’t trust yourself, however, then go to a driving course. Not trusting yourself is actually worse then bad skills. Because then bad things tend to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


I had a cop yell at me once too… I was driving to get my muffler fixed and of course got pulled over because it was dragging on the ground. I guess I didn’t see the cop right away and I WAS IN THE LEFT LANE(legal in PA)…so when I noticed his lights, I promptly turned into a shopping center and pulled over. He got out of his car screaming about didn’t I see his lights, blah blah blah… and as he got up to my car he totally changed to talking nice and calling me sweetie… I was 19 yo and I guess what you would call cute… He asked me if I knew my muffler was dragging and I told him I was on my way to the mechanic and he just let me go…

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit