Tougher jail sentences for drivers who kill or cause injury are supported by the majority according to a new survey by IAM RoadSmart.
The road safety organisation polled 2,000 road users, and found that almost eight-out-of-ten thought that a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving should be created, with more than half (56%) believing it should carry a maximum sentence of between a year and five years in prison, and the remainder feeling it should be more than five years.
Almost half of respondents said the current maximum penalty of 14 years in jail for causing death by dangerous driving was insufficient, with just over 50% going as far as to support a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for the offence.
That will be a boost for the Government, who in December put forward plans for dangerous drivers who kill to face a life sentence. Dangerous drivers who cause death by speeding, street racing, or mobile phone use now face the same penalties as those charged with manslaughter. A Government consultation which ran until February sought views on introducing maximum life sentences for those who cause death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs.
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.
“We want to see the current guidelines applied consistently by the courts first. In practice the current maximum of 14 years in prison for causing death by dangerous driving is rarely used which is deeply upsetting for the families of victims. There is no guarantee a higher maximum would be used either.”
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