Survey shows appetite for ‘far stricter’ sentences

12.00 | 9 February 2017 | | 2 comments

IAM RoadSmart says the results of a new survey show that road users want the law to be ‘far stricter’ on those who cause death and serious injury when driving.

In the survey, published yesterday (8 Feb) by the road safety charity, 80% of the 2,000 respondents agreed there should be a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.

56% of those who agreed said the maximum penalty should be between one and five years in prison; 44% went further, saying it should be more than five years.

Almost 50% of respondents to the IAM RoadSmart survey also felt the current maximum penalty of 14 years in jail for causing death by dangerous driving ‘wasn’t nearly high enough’.

In December, the Ministry of Justice announced a consultation on proposals to increase penalties for drivers who kill while driving dangerously, carelessly or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The proposals out for consultation, which ran until 1 February, include the option of a life sentence for these offences. Drivers who cause death by speeding, street racing or while on a mobile phone would face the same sentences as those charged with manslaughter.

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart chief executive officer, said: “Our survey shows that on the very emotive issue of those who cause death by driving offences, there is public support for tougher sentencing and that many feel the law simply doesn’t go far enough.

“Holding a driving licence should be considered a privilege, not a right – and those that fail dangerously to reach the highest standards should have that right taken away.

“It is very clear that in the minds of many of the UK public, the punishment often does not fit the crime – and British people think the law should reflect that in a far more fitting and appropriate way."

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    Has anyone actually been sentenced to the maximum 14 years?

    Jill Winstone Salford
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Tougher sentences can only be a tiny part of the solution. The difference between causing serious injury and no injury as a result of bad driving can be as simple as the NCAP rating of the car you hit… the difference between causing serious injury and causing death can be as simple as whether you hit a pedestrian in a remote rural location or an urban area down the road from the ambulance station. Hitting a bus shelter full of people vs hitting an empty bus shelter can be determined by whether the bus is late or on time. These are the outcome of luck. How far should sentences for bad driving be determined by luck?

    Add to this that most people don’t imagine they will be involved in a crash, much less that that crash will result in death or serious injury. These people will not be deterred from driving badly by more serious penalties for these offences and therefore they will not serve a preventative purpose.

    Higher offences for the bad driving people know they are doing (regardless of outcome determined by luck) will have a certain deterrent effect, but only if there is a high likelihood of getting caught. There are now fewer than 5,000 Roads Policing officers in the country. Tougher sentencing for causing death and injury will make families feel better, but will sadly do very little to prevent other families suffering the same experience.

    Saul Jeavons, Cambridgeshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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