A study to mark the launch of Brake’s new “Roads to Justice” campaign has suggested there is ‘huge’ support for strengthening the charges and sentences given to ‘criminal drivers’.
Launched today (11 July), the campaign’s call for the government to immediately review its guidelines surrounding the issue is backed by a number of recently bereaved families.
The road safety charity has also set up an online petition, which since launch on 7 July has received more than 2,500 signatures.
At present drivers can either be charged with causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs. However, 91% of people questioned by Brake agreed they should be charged with manslaughter.
66% of respondents to the Brake survey also believe drivers who kill should be jailed for a minimum of 10 years, while 84% think they should be charged with dangerous and not careless driving.
The new campaign is being backed by Dawn and Ian Brown-Lartey, whose son Joseph was killed when his car was struck by a speeding driver who ran a red light at more than 80mph.
Joseph’s car, which was cut in two by the collision, is being put on public display at the House of Commons to mark the launch of the campaign.
Dawn and Ian Brown-Lartey said: “The law needs to change so that sentences for causing death by dangerous driving reflect the crime. We can’t bring Joseph back, but what we can do is campaign in his name to stop other families going through what we are.”
In 2014, 176 people were charged with ‘causing death by dangerous driving’ and 205 with ‘causing death by careless driving’. Brake argues that all careless driving is dangerous on the grounds that ‘if you are not giving your full attention to the road, you are more likely to crash’.
Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, said: “There are too many families who suffer the double trauma of losing a loved one in a sudden and violent way, and then witness the judicial system turning its back on them.
“That’s why we’re launching our Roads to Justice campaign, which calls on government to get tough on criminal drivers who kill or seriously injure others.
“We believe the public are behind us, judging from our survey results. People we work with tell us they are left feeling betrayed by the use of inappropriately-termed charges and lenient sentences.
“Drivers who kill while taking illegal risks are too often labelled ‘careless’ in the eyes of the law, and then given insultingly low sentences when their actions can only be described as dangerous and destructive.”