As support builds for The Gazette’s ‘Drive for Justice’ campaign, experts today explained why tougher sentences for those who kill people on the roads are so badly needed.
Official figures reveal the staggering number of people convicted of causing death while behind the wheel, prompting our call to make the sentences fit the crime.
In the wrong hands, a car is like a dangerous weapon
More from The Gazette’s ‘Drive for Justice’ campaign
Gary Rae, campaigns director at road safety charity Brake, says: “In the wrong hands, a car is like a dangerous weapon. That is why the families of victims of road crashes get so frustrated with the sentencing.
“The powers are there, but judges say they are acting under guidelines and there are inconsistencies in different courts.”
The maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving currently stands at 14 years in prison but of the 738 people convicted in England and Wales between 2010 and 2015, just seven were jailed for more than 10 years. And 42 avoided prison entirely.
Cycling UK has been pushing the Government for a long-awaited review of penalties for motoring offences. Senior road safety and legal campaigner Duncan Dollimore, said increasing the maximum sentence to 20 years would have a knock-on effect.
He said: “This would not mean someone would get the 20 years but the sentences themselves would go up and be higher.”
Meanwhile, Lancashire mum Nicky Pickering, who lost her 16-year-old daughter Jade in a fatal collision, has backed the campaign. The driver responsible was ordered to do community service but avoided a jail term.
The 41-year-old said: “As a parent, it is your worst nightmare. We were totally different people when we came back from the hospital that night.
“Tougher sentences and punishments are needed to act as deterrents. People who actually kill on the roads are getting away with it.
“I know this driver did not go out that night intending to kill Jade but his actions cost two girls their lives.”
Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said: “Driving offences can have devastating and heart-breaking consequences for victims and their families.
“This Government is determined to make sure sentencing fits the crime for those who kill or seriously injure on our roads. We will launch a consultation on dangerous driving offences and penalties by the end of the year.”