Should killer drivers face tougher penalties?

Road accident Memorial with colourful stuffed toys and a car

Photo credit: IntangibleArts

If you kill someone while speeding in your car, should you face a more serious sentence? A new survey from a leading road safety charity has found that Brits believe that penalties for drivers who kill and injure others should be tougher in order to provide justice for victim families and to deter dangerous driving.

Whether you own your car or you drive it under a contract hire or car leasing agreement, driving dangerously can put your passengers and other road users at risk. Now, Brake and Direct Line’s survey has found that four in five people support tougher penalties for drivers convicted of killing or injuring others. Keep reading to find out more.

Four in five people want tougher penalties for killer drivers

A new survey of 1,000 drivers by road safety charity Brake and insurer Direct Line has revealed overwhelming public support for tougher penalties for drivers who kill and injure.

Four in five respondents (82 per cent) think that sentences should be higher for drivers who kill while 81 per cent of people think that if you kill or seriously injure someone when taking any kind of illegal risk at the wheel, you should be considered ‘dangerous’ not ‘careless’ in the eyes of the law.

The poll found that the majority think drivers who kill while they were drink or drug driving (85 per cent), speeding (66 per cent) or on their phone (64 per cent) should get five years or more in prison. And, 95 per cent of people think penalties should be tougher for killer drivers who flee the scene.

‘Inadequacies in the justice system’ resulting in light sentences

The latest government figures show that only six in ten people (62 per cent) convicted of killing someone through risky driving are jailed, and only 9 per cent are sentenced to five years or more in prison.

Brake believes that ‘a combination of inadequacies in the criminal justice system’ means that many drivers who kill and seriously receive very low sentences and often no jail term at all.

The Ministry of Justice decides on the offences drivers can be charged with and the maximum penalties; the Criminal Prosecution Service decides what charge to prosecute a driver for in court and then judges then determine the length of sentence if the driver is convicted, working within maximum penalties and using Sentencing Council guidelines.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “We want the government to acknowledge how inadequate current charges and penalties are and take action to prevent traumatised families suffering further insult.

“Denying justice to victim families often has a terrible impact on their ability to rebuild and move forward with their lives. Our report shows huge public support for this campaign, and in Parliament MPs are mobilising for action across the political parties. We’re calling for the government to listen to the bereaved families courageously speaking up on this issue, and seize the opportunity to fix this long-running issue.”

The road safety charity is calling for bold action to ensure drivers who inflict terrible suffering are brought to justice. They want stiffer penalties for hit and run drivers, stronger sentencing guidelines and revised charges for causing death and serious injury, so drivers who kill and cause serious injuries are not let off on lesser ‘careless’ driving charges.

Rob Miles, director of Motor at Direct Line, commented: “Ensuring that dangerous drivers receive appropriate convictions and sentences for their actions will help to improve safety on the roads for all road users. We will not offer insurance to motorists who have a conviction for dangerous driving on their licence as we feel the risk is too great.”

  • What’s your view? Do you think penalties need to be harsher when a death is involved?

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