Majority support bans for drivers who cause death or serious injury

13.23 | 19 November 2018 | | 4 comments

More than three quarters of people believe drivers who cause death or serious injury should receive an automatic driving ban, a new poll published to coincide with the start of Road Safety Week suggests.

In the Cycling UK poll, carried out by YouGov, 77% of respondents support an automatic ban for those convicted of causing serious injury – rising to 83% for drivers responsible for a fatality.

83% of respondents said those who cause serious injury should be re-tested before they can return to the road, rising to 86% when a fatality is caused.

Driving bans are supposed to be imposed automatically for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving.

However, Ministry of Justice figures from 2017 show that 28 drivers convicted of causing death by careless driving were not directly disqualified – while 61 convicted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving escaped a direct ban.

‘Careful and competent’ drivers
The poll also asked whether participants considered themselves a ‘careful and competent driver’ – the standard for which careless and dangerous driving is legally considered to fall below.

While 91% of respondents classified themselves as ‘careful and competent’, 52% of these said they have driven over a 20mph speed limit and 57% over the 30mph limit. 58% also admitted to driving through an amber light turning to red.

In terms of drink-driving, 94% of drivers who describe themselves as competent said they had never driven under the influence of alcohol – while 84% said they never use a handheld mobile phone while driving.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, said: “It’s clear the public believe that drivers who have presented the most danger to others should be removed from our roads, but they’re less clear about what amounts to risky behaviour.

“Whilst 91% of respondents with a full driving license thought they were ‘competent and careful’ drivers, over half of them admitted to speeding on roads with 30mph limits and 20mph limits – the latter usually being imposed around schools, hospitals and where our children walk and play.

“If so many people are unable to recognise that speeding in such areas presents risks, and that they’re not driving carefully and competently when doing so, it’s no surprise that our laws around careless and dangerous driving are in such a mess.

“We need to review our road traffic laws so there’s a clearer objective standard for the driving we expect on our roads, otherwise what’s judged to be careless or dangerous driving will remain a lottery.”  

Organised annually in November by Brake, Road Safety Week provides an opportunity for communities to take action on road safety – and a focal point for professionals to boost road safety awareness and engagement.

Using the theme ‘Bike Smart’, Road Safety Week 2018 is seeking to raise awareness about the importance of protecting those on two wheels.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said: “Our road laws must do all they can to protect us from unsafe drivers, but flaws in the current framework limit this ability.

“A review of road traffic offences and penalties is needed to regain the public’s trust and to ensure that just and fair outcomes are consistently delivered.”



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    What Pat says is valid – the prosecution and possible subsequent ban seems to be based on the consequences rather than the behaviour leading up to the incident. Dangerous and reckless driving is still dangerous and reckless driving, even if no-one gets hurt and in an ideal world, should be detected and dealt with, before a tragedy occurred.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    and what do we do with all those cases where an injury has occurred that is massively dis-proportionate to the collision?
    I’m thinking in particular of a 5mph bump between a car a a cyclist which caused the cyclist to fall off. This could have just resulted in bruises but the cyclist fell badly and died as a result. Very sad but an AUTOMATIC driving ban? – no, leave it to an evidence based decision in a court.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

    Judges and jurors determining such cases no doubt will also have varying understandings of what a ‘careful and competent’ driver is. Conceivably, their own standards of driving may be suspect as well – what if one or more of them are not drivers at all? Police evidence of what happened and how and why could be flawed. I have heard the police refer to some accidents a ‘nobody’s fault’ which, Acts of God aside, it usually is!

    Judging from the responders in the article, if they were jurors, their judgment could be questionable.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

    If being a ‘careful and competent driver’ is the standard for which careless and dangerous driving is legally considered to fall below, where exactly is this ‘standard’ written down? Might we find it in the archive of the BSI or ISO or any of the interntionally recognised standards bodies or does it not actually exist as a written standard?

    Thanks to the fundamental attribution error and the Dunning Kruger effect, the terms careful and competent are very much a matter of personal opinion when used to gauge either our own or another person’s abilities. Should therefore such a woolly or even non-existent standard be allowed to be used in a court of law?

    The Road Traffic Act doesn’t help in that it gives no definition of the terms careful or competent and it just references these terms without further explanation.

    I think it’s about time that the road safety industry put it’s thinking caps on and got this standard and the meaning of its terms formally worked out and set down so that any and all ambiguity would be removed once and for all.

    Duncan MacKillop, The Cotswolds
    Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

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